The tutor shares a few facts from his recent research of pain medications.
In 1886, Doctors Arnold Cahn and Paul Hepp were trying naphthalene as a treatment for intestinal worms. They ordered more, but a pharmacist mistakenly sent acetanilide.
One of the patients was not only suffering from worms, but also from fever. After they took the acetanilide, the fever subsided, although the intestinal worms remained. The doctors examined the medication and discovered it wasn’t naphthalene, but rather acetanilide.
Having noticed the fever-reducing performance of the acetanilide, the doctors performed more trials with it. They discovered it to be effective as a pain reliever (analgesic) as well. A derivative, phenacetin, became established by Bayer for relief of pain and fever.
Phenacetin, even in moderate doses, was found to be toxic. In 1899, Karl Morner of Germany discovered that the body metabolizes acetanilide into acetaminophen. (The same effect occurs with phenacetin.) In the UK, Sterling realized that acetaminophen is effective against pain and fever, without the toxicity of phenacetin.
Acetaminophen went to market in the US and the UK in the 1950s. It is also known as paracetamol, and sold under many brand names worldwide.
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