Field of Science

Got a headache?

Several painkillers in the class of COX-2 inhibitors have been pulled from the market lately (Vioxx), and now there are questions about the cardiovascular safety of some of the NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), a class believed to be generally cardioprotective, if hard on the stomach. Millions of people take baby aspirin to stave off heart attacks.

Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is the oldest member of the NSAIDS. It has been used for over 100 years for pain, fever and inflammation. Until 1915 aspirin was only available by prescription. Bayer Aspirin was the first drug ever to be marketed in tablet form. It was first marketed in 1899 as a powder, but by 1900 aspirin was being compressed into a water-soluble tablet. This new method eliminated the need to package individual doses in paper bags and thus cut costs by half. Aspirin is consumed in a variety of ways. The French prefer suppositiories to pills, the Italians take fizzy forms akin to Alka-Seltzer and the British seem to like aspirin powders that can be dissolved in water.

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