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Aspirin contains a substance with the complicated name ‘acetylsalicylic acid’, which helps to relieve pain. Acetylsalicylic acid also occurs naturally, for example in willow bark. People have been making painkillers from the leaves and bark of willow trees for over four thousand years. Acetylsalicylic acid has traditionally ranked among the most common painkillers. Not only does it reduce pain, it also inhibits blood clotting and can therefore help stroke sufferers or those with cardiovascular problems.

In the late 19th century Bayer was the first company to produce aspirin on an industrial scale. Their chemical factory in Elberfeld, Germany, was the first of its kind, and ushered in the pharmaceutical age. The industry has grown enormously since then, with pharmaceutical companies worldwide producing medicines worth many billions.

Last modified:12 April 2021 1.23 p.m.
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