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Aspirin Age Not Over

Columns 2023-12-01, 1:39am

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Prof. M Zahidul Haque



Prof. M Zahidul Haque and Tanzila Rahman

Ever since its naming and registration as a new drug in February 1, 1899—Aspirin gained popularity throughout the world as the wonder or magical drug for its ability to relieve pain, fever and inflammation, etc. The aspirin age continued with the discovery of new applications. Because of its antiplatelet property, Aspirin is now prescribed to people with ‘Coronary artery disease (CAD)’. A daily dose of 75mg or 81mg Aspirin tablets is recommended to people who had have angioplasty. Aspirin helps prevent blood clots in arteries and can lower the risk of heart attack and ischemic stroke. The drug can potentially prevent different types of cancer including gastrointestinal tract (GI) cancers.

Tanzila Rahman, UAO, Ramu

The generic name of Aspirin is ‘Acetyl Salicylic Acid’. The key component of aspirin is Salicylates. In the ancient Egypt, the bark and leaves of a tree Called Willow was used as a medicine. The Willow trees contain ‘Salicin’, the source of Salicylic acid which performs the function of aspirin. Aspirin played a key role in 1918 flu pandemic.

The German Chemist Felix Hoffmann (1868-1946) is the inventor of aspirin. Felix Hoffmann used to work for the Bayer Company who succeeded in  modifying salicylic acid to create acetylsalicylic acid. Later Bayer company started manufacturing Aspirin from 1899. After that, many other pharmaceutical companies began producing aspirin. Aspirin is still widely used around the globe with 40,000  tons produced yearly. However Bayer aspirin continues to be a trusted brand.

Aspirin is classified among the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). An anticoagulant like heparin or warfarin, aspirin being antiplatelet prevent platelets from clumping together to form clot thereby protects people against heart-attack and stroke.

Aspirin comes in many forms, viz. pills, capsules, extended release tablets, enteric coated tablets, suppository, intravenous, etc. Aspirin is available in so many brands like Aspro, Disprin, Solmin, Astrix, Cardipin, etc. Aspirin is also marketed as effervescent tablets (dissolve in water or juice). To make it more safer, aspirin tablets are also available as low-dose enteric coated Ecosprin75 mg or 81 mg (baby aspirin) plus aspirin with Vitamin-C and Sodium bicarbonate and gastro resistant tablets. Lately, the FDA approved a new type of aspirin under the brand name—Valazore, which causes less stomach-related side effects, such as, ulcers.

Meanwhile there are some natural forms of aspirin found in-- apples, chili pepper, cucumber, apricots, avocado, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, cherries, currant, dates, eggplant, ginger, figs, tomatoes, grapes, etc.

All medicines have side-effects, so the wonder drug Aspirin too has side-effects like swelling in face or hands, itching, nausea, hives, stomach pain, skin rash. etc. But these side-effects overweighed benefits. It is hoped that new safer preparations of aspirin with less side-effects would be innovated and Aspirin would continue to serve the suffering mankind!

(Prof. M Zahidul Haque retired as Professor and was also a former Dean of Faculty of Agriculture at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka and Tanzila Rahman (BCS-Agri) is Upazila Agriculture Officer, Ramu, Cox’s Bazar)