I am absolutely amazed by the omission of salicylamide as a safe replacement for individuals who cannot tolerate aspirin (Take Two: Aspirin, Modern Drug Discovery, October 2000, p 23).
Chemo Puro Manufacturing Corporation (founded in 1941 in Newark, NJ) rediscovered salicylamide, which had been developed shortly after aspirin but proved to be less effective against headaches than acetylsalicylic acid. Chemo Puro reintroduced salicylamide to the American pharmaceutical industry in the early 1950s with success, prompting Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Rhodia to follow as competitors. For many years, salicyl amide was the main analgesic component in over-the-counter pain relievers, but it was later replaced by ibuprofen.
Although the use of salicylamide never reached that of aspirin, hundreds of thousands of pounds were produced annually during the 1950s and 1960s.
Peter C. Hereld, Founder
Because of limited space, I had to leave many important events and facts out of the article, including much of the history of aspirin and its alternatives. I had to focus on what is likely to be most important in the near future. It seems unlikely that salicylamide will again become available as a stand-alone analgesic or that, despite its affordable price and long history, doctors will turn to it instead of COX-2 inhibitors or proton-pump inhibitors for patients who have trouble taking long-term, high-dose aspirin.
Shauna S. Roberts
A centennial note
Your recent supplement, The Pharmaceutical Century, is invaluable, and I shall circulate my copy; but I was a bit disappointed not to find the name of Percy Julian, who contributed a lot to steroid chemistry and developed a source material. In 1993, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp with his picture.
I also must note that the drug industry has had a great effect on the legal industry (Chem. Eng. News, Dec 17, 1998, p 31). In one case, five trial lawyers from the Miami area contacted parents of malformed babies whose mothers used Bendectin, and for $500 promised great returns from the manufacturer. They lost all the suits except one, which was reversed on appeal. As a result, judges now dismiss testimony from questionable scientists. This has since been extended to engineers as a result of tire suits.
I am a bit disappointed that the recent popularity of natural drugs was not broached. This market involves $12 billion a year in sales of products whose origin may not be known, whose efficacy is unknown and unproved, and which are sold without any tests or standards. It is my opinion that Congress should instruct the FDA to require proof of safety and efficacy of this group of products, which would include reactions with other foods and drugs.
Henry R. Kreider