HeroinA highly addictive drug derived from morphine, is obtained from the opium poppy
People wonder whether heroin the drug and heroic have the same root. In fact they do. It's the Greek word heros
. But why was heroin named so proudly to begin with? It all has to do with the drug business, but not the kind you're thinking about. Heroin was invented in 1874 by an English chemist named C.R. Alder Wright but he didn't do much with it. But when the recipe found its way over to Felix Hoffmann at the German drug company, Bayer (yes, the same Bayer), things began to happen for little heroin. Heroin, the word itself, was a registered trademark
, like Jell-O or Coca-Cola. It was the name by which Bayer was going to market their new pain killer, and market they did. The name was chosen, obviously, because during testing users said it made them feel heroic. Heroin was marketed from 1898-1910 by Bayer as an alternative cold medicine and also as a cure for morphine addiction. When someone discovered that heroin turns into morphine in your liver, Bayer was embarrassed. Finally, in 1914 the US outlawed heroin altogether and it's never been used or abused since!
Oh, but back to that German chemist Hoffmann for a second. He was having a busy couple of weeks around the time he registered the Heroin trademark. He had invented and registered Aspirin only 11 days earlier (yes, aspirin also was a trademarked term). In fact, one reason he developed heroin into a medicine was because he feared 'possible side effects' of aspirin. If he only knew...