chapter  14
Backyard Full of Diamonds
Pages 20

Peaks of popularity and valleys of abandonment best describe the roller-coaster endurance of aspirin. It was first made by the French chemist Charles Gerhart in 1853 then put on the shelf as a curiosity. Almost a half century later it was reinvented by Felix Hoffmann in Germany's Bayer pharmaceutical company. It became the most successful drug in the world, even outselling antibiotics. When newer pain-killers and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, came on the market, aspirin went into a decline. But when aspirin's ability to interrupt the process that leads to heart attacks and strokes became evident, the drug once more became king of the drug empire. The United States alone produces an estimated 35 million pounds of aspirin a year and Americans consume 50 billion aspirin and aspirin-containing tablets annually.