Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor:
Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA;
Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia
Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Hardly a month goes by without the medical press announcing some new
benefit of the ancient drug aspirin. The much-publicized “wonder drug”
is no longer just an effective painkiller. A flurry of research—around
26 000 scientific accounts so far—suggests that it helps fight conditions
ranging from myocardial infarction and bowel cancer to migraine headaches
and high blood pressure in pregnancy.
There are now more than 50 over-the-counter drugs in which aspirin (or,
rather, acetyl salicylic acid) is the principal active ingredient. But who
would have thought that the good old generic formulation bore witness to so
much upheaval in the history of medicine and, for that matter, the origins
of the modern chemical industry. Even more startling is the revelation that
the marketing success of the blockbuster pill partly aided the rise of Hitler’s
Third Reich in Germany and, thus, its devastating war against humanity.
Bagchi S. Aspirin. JAMA. 2005;293(10):1267-1272. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1268