19 Oct /15


Aspirin - Word of the day - EVS Tranlations
Aspirin – Word of the day – EVS Tranlations

What is the first that comes to mind when we hear the name of the German pharma giant Bayer? Indeed, it is Aspirin!

And as we might remember from chemistry classes, aspirin is actually acetylsalicylic acid which is found naturally in the flowers and leaves of the Spiraea ulmaria, yet was firstly chemically produced in only 1853.

But it took nearly half a decade until the commercial name of the medicine was coined. In March 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registers Aspirin as the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

At the time, the practice of giving commercial names to medicinal products has just began in Germany as a strategy to market chemical substances under short trade names which doctors could easily remember and fill in prescriptions. As advertising drugs directly to consumers was considered unethical and was banned by most medical organisations.

The trade name Aspirin was coined by the German chemist Heinrich Dreser, responsible for the aspirin and heroin projects at Bayer. The name originated from the plant in whose flowers or leaves the processed acid in the medicine is naturally found, which Latin name originated from the Greek Speiraia “meadow-sweet”. There are different theories as why the initial A- was added, with the most common and logical explanation – to reflect the acetylation (Acetyl-).

Starting as a proper noun, the aspirin later became a common name which left a significant trace on the last decade. Entering the market as a powder delivered to pharmacists in glass jars to be later separated into individual doses in small paper bags, Aspirin was among the first medicines to appear in a classical tablet form in the 1910s. The pills with the distinctive Bayer cross logo flooded the market and by the outbreak of World War I, Bayer had grown to 10 000 employed in its European and American subsidiaries with Aspirin accounting for over 30% of its global sales.

Aspirin – Bayer

The war saw Bayer losing its trademark rights with the rising demand for salicylic acid to be used in explosives’ production, the so-famous Great Phenol Plot. Phenol, used in phonograph records production and as compound in the sinthesys of acetylsalicylic acid, was a scarce resource with supplies going to the production of military explosives. A dummy corporation, funded by the German government, bought on behalf of Bayer phenol from Thomas Edison’s factory). With Germany losing the Great War, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 forced Bayer to give up both the Aspirin and Heroin trademarks (more on Heroin in another word of the day).

he abovementioned, were some of the main factors behind Bayer’s Aspirin sharp move to Latin America. Where the drug was marketed as a new brand designed especially for the local consumers – the Cafiaspirina (Aspirin with a little caffeine added). Cafiaspirina’ s advertising campaign is often referred to as the most ambitious one Latin America had ever seen and the miracle drug to relieve any aches, shortly accumulated exceptional painless returns.

In 1950, Aspirin was crowned as the best-selling painkiller in the Guiness Book of Records, but the moment of fame was relatively short, as new painkillers were on the rise, the development of paracetamol and ibuprofen saw its sales declining. In the next two decades, the only sky rocketing moment of Aspirin was its landing on the Moon, aboard the Space Shuttle Apollo 11.

It was in 1970s, when Aspirin came back to rule, with the British pharmacologist Sir John Vane decrypting its antiinflammatory effects and further studies establishing aspirin as an effective anti-clogging agent.

Today, Aspirin is mainly widespread as a preventive treatment for heart attacks and strokes and is one of the most frequently used pharmaceuticals with a global daily consumption of more than 100 million pieces.