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!

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