Monday, June 13, 2016

Word of the Week - Aspirin

No, I don't have a headache. Not today. ;-) But this a word I'd looked up to make sure I could use it in a 1914 setting, so I thought I'd share the interesting pharmaceutical history that went along with it.

Aspirin was a trademarked name, created in 1899 by German chemist Heinrich Dreser. It's from the Latin spiraea, or "meadow-sweet," the plant from which it's derived.

Here's the interesting bit. According to German law, prescriptions had to be filled exactly as written. So chemist companies would trademark very easily-made drugs that were made from common items, using household names for things that were easy for doctors to remember. Doctors would then write a prescription, and they would have to be filled as written. No generics for them! So these companies were then making a lot of money from very simple items.

I find it interesting that, in the U.S. at least, "aspirin" is certainly not considered a brand name; it's the rather generic name for that type of medicine, which any company can then make. I wonder if the same is true these days in Germany...


On a totally unrelated note, the paperback of A Stray Drop of Blood is finally available on Amazon again!


  1. Hard to believe, it seems so commonplace now.

  2. Wow, I didn't know that about aspirin. Interesting.

  3. You know who to ask that question.

  4. You know who to ask that question.