Take two and call me in the morning ©Getty Images
Take two and call me in the morning ©Getty Images

Supply audit: the low-down on aspirin

2 November 2017

A cure-all curiosity or a thoroughly modern tablet – the Victorian remedy that is still saving lives

Do you have anything for a headache?

I have just the thing. How about an aspirin? Cheap, readily available and virtually side-effect free.

Does anyone still take aspirin? I thought ibuprofen was all the rage?

It’s not just a one-trick pony. In fact, far from just helping with your hangover, aspirin has been touted as a medication for thinning the blood, saving the lives of heart attack victims, preventing strokes, lowering the risk of some cancers and even keeping cut flowers fresh for longer.

Aspirin is found in the bark of the willow tree, but what’s actually in the pill?

Pure aspirin is a chemical called acetylsalicylic acid, and although it’s thought to have been used for the last 2,400 years, it was first manufactured and marketed in 1899 by pharmaceutical firm Bayer. Aspirin is actually a brand name and in parts of the world Bayer still owns the trademark, but it has since lost the rights in many countries including the US and UK. In these countries aspirin has become a generic name for the drug.

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