Why was heroin invented?

At the time heroin was invented, the only effective medication for pain, diarrhea and coughing was morphine. Unfortunately, many people became addicted to morphine. In response, many chemists tried to create something safer. In the quest to find morphine’s replacement, heroin was invented. As is sometimes the case, the “cure” can be worse than the “disease” and that was the case with heroin.

Famous quotes about heroin


Who invented heroin?

The first person to invent heroin a.k.a. diacetylmorphine, which was originally made by mixing anhydrous morphine with acetic anhydride and boiling it for several hours, was C.R. Alder Wright way back in 1874.

Wright quickly figured out that his new discovery was actually more dangerous than morphine. He originally tested it on his pet dog, and naturally, he almost killed it. Luckily, the little pooch survived, but that “near miss” heroin overdose turned out to be the world’s first heroin overdose.

After realizing his new invention was less safe than morphine, he decided to tuck his notes away forever. Unfortunately, he also decided to publish his notes in a local trade journal – The Chemical and Pharmaceutical Journal, and that was Wright’s second mistake. As it turns out, heroin is actually a prodrug of morphine, which means it’s about 3 times stronger than morphine. It also means it’s about 3 times as addictive.



Big pharma

Almost twenty-five years after C.R. Alder Wright tucked away his notes, and just a few years after his death, another man named Heinrich Dreser came across Wright’s formula in an old copy of the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Journal. Dreser knew that he might have stumbled upon something that could make the company and himself rich. He asked his colleague Felix Hoffman if he would take time out of his busy schedule to verify that the formula actually worked. Unfortunately for Dreser, Hoffman was busy working on his own new drug, which he recently named “Aspirin.” Dreser pleaded with Hoffman to temporarily halt his work on Aspirin, and Hoffman begrudgingly agreed. In short order, both Hoffman and Dreser knew they found a brand new drug that would make them and the company a lot of money. This moment in history is considered the infancy of Big Pharma. Some even say that Big Pharma began in the year 1898, the same year that Bayer began worldwide distribution of HEROIN.

Dreser and Hoffman worked for Bayer pharmaceuticals, a company headed by Carl Duisberg. In June, 1898, Carl Duisberg renamed diacetylmorphine under Bayer’s trademark name “Heroin,” and began marketing it as a safe and non-habit-forming cough remedy for children. Within a year, Bayer was exporting it across the globe to about 23 nations. Soon after, physicians and scientist began reporting of its habit-forming effects. When Carl Duisberg heard of these reports he quipped that one had to “silence the opponents.”


The first nation where heroin addiction seems to have become a major problem was the United States. The main site of the addiction problem was New York City where 98 per cent of all drug addicts were reported to be heroin addicts.



The world’s first heroin addict

Heinrich Dreser, Felix Hoffman and Carl Duisberg of Bayer Pharma AG conspired to sell heroin to the public as a safe medication. That decision has since led to the deaths of millions upon millions of people across the globe.


Mr. Dreser is often credited with inventing heroin. However, what he really did was steal the work of C.R. Alder Wright, create the name “HEROIN”, and sell it to the public as a safe non-habit-forming cough remedy.


Ironically, the person most responsible for bringing HEROIN to the world, Mr. Heinrich Dreser, died of a stroke at age 64, a lonely heroin addict. What’s more…it’s not at all improbable to think that Dreser was, in fact, the world’s first heroin addict. It’s well known that he tested it on himself for months prior to shipping it to the United States. It seems more likely that he did become addicted, and if he did become addicted during the testing phase, that would likely make him the first heroin addict.


how does heroin work