The Role of Chemistry in History

The Role of Chemistry in History header image 2


April 24th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Introduction | Discovery | Chemical Composition
Usage | Historical Significance

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Heroin was first processed in 1874 by C.R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at a medical school in London.

Wright’s invention, however, did not lead to any further developments, and heroin only became popular after it was independently re-synthesized 23 years later by another chemist, Felix Hoffman working at the German pharmaceutical company Bayer.


Bayer would name the substance “heroin”, which came from the word heroisch, German for heroic, because in field studies people using the medicine felt “heroic”.

Heroin Bottle


In the beginning, heroin was marketed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine and a cough-supressant drug for children. It was only in 1910 that the addictive qualities of the drug were realized and the free distribution of the drug banned.

Tags: Heroin