Response to Letter Regarding Article, “Aspirin: A Historical and Contemporary Therapeutic Overview”
We read the letter about our review1 by Dr Fürstenwerth with great interest. Dr Fürstenwerth's analysis and comments on the historical aspects related to the discovery of acetylsalicylic acid are well taken. We agree, the initial observations put forth by Drs Arnold Cahn and Paul Hepp in describing the fever-reducing properties of acetanilide in naphthalene paved the way for the development of future acetylated compounds, and we thank Dr Fürstenwerth for pointing out the “mania of acetylation” that followed after this discovery. Despite our search, the period Rosenthaler described as “a time of obsession to introduce acetyl-groups into all kinds of compounds” was unknown to us at the time of this publication, and certainly adds yet another interesting aspect to the already fascinating story of this compound. Nonetheless, we would hold that, although the acetylation of salicylic acid by Felix Hoffman may have been based on pure serendipity, as suggested, one cannot detract from the experimentation, clinical testing, and marketing led by Hoffman, Heinrich Dreser, and Arthur Eichengrün that contributed to the ultimate production and commercial success of aspirin.
Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD
Joseph M. Sweeny, MD
Mount Sinai Heart
Mount Sinai Medical Center
New York, NY
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.