Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘heroisch


In the early 1900’s Heroin was a trademarked medicine by the Bayer company

In 1874, C.R. Alder Wright became the first person to synthesize diamorphine, more commonly known as heroin, by adding two acetyl groups to the molecules.

He was an English chemistry and physics researcher at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and sent the synthesized diamorphine to F. M. Pierce of Owens College in Manchester for analysis.

Pierce told Wright:

“Doses … were subcutaneously injected into young dogs and rabbits … with the following general results 

great prostration, fear, and sleepiness speedily following the administration, the eyes being sensitive, and pupils constrict, considerable salivation being produced in dogs, and a slight tendency to vomiting in some cases, but no actual emesis.

Respiration was at first quickened, but subsequently reduced, and the heart’s action was diminished and rendered irregular. Marked want of coordinating power over the muscular movements, and loss of power in the pelvis and hind limbs, together with a diminution of temperature in the rectum of about 4°.”

However, Wright’s compound didn’t find it’s way to the market and neither of the men gained interest among pharmaceutical companies.

Not until 23 years later when German chemist Felix Hoffmann independently re-synthesized the diamorphine. At the time Hoffmann was working in the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Elberfeld, Germany, and he did his experiment under the supervision of Heinrich Dreser.

Dreser supervised Hoffmann while making codeine, the constituent of the opium poppy which in a pharmaceutical context is similar to morphine, by acetylating morphine. The expectation was to produce a less potent and addictive medicine.

They achieved this aim, but ultimately the medicine was considered to be so effective that it was named “heroin”, derived from the German word heroischmeaning “heroic and strong.”

This made Bayer the first company to commercialize the diacetylmorphine, and market it with the “glorious” name – heroin. Bayer was producing heroin as medicine for twelve years, from 1898 to 1910, as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant sold around the world

In 1914  the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was passed to control the sale and distribution of diacetylmorphine and other opioids, which allowed the drug to be prescribed and sold for medical purposes.

At the conclusion of WWI in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles caused Bayer to lose part of its trademark rights to heroin. Today, heroin is the most controlled drug around the world, marked as the most physical and psychological addictive substance

Structure of heroin
Structure of heroin




March 2023

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