Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is one of the most widely used drugs worldwide as a non-opioid analgesic because of its reliable safety profile observed for decades and a broad therapeutic window. It is a first-line therapy drug for pain management and was first approved by the FDA in 1951. It is available in various dosage forms, including syrups, powder, tablets, and injectable suspensions. It is an over-the-counter drug and is considered free from potential consumer harm. It has almost no drug interactions, and some existent interactions are only minor. This is why the regulations around this drug remain very lenient in nearly all countries.
History of discovery
Before the discovery of Paracetamol, acetanilide was the first compound from the aromatic family, which was known to have antipyretic action. It is an aniline derivative and also worked to show some analgesic properties. Unfortunately, the discovery was not as beneficial as it seemed initially because it induced methemoglobinemia in the consumers and led to cyanosis. So scientists began to search for a drug that has less toxicity than acetanilide and began experimenting with its structure for this purpose.
Finally, in 1877, a scientist named Harmon Northrop Morse synthesized Paracetamol for the first time in the laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. For the first time, Paracetamol was prepared by the reaction of p-nitrophenol with tin immersed in glacial acetic acid. The drug was then tested a few years later in 1887 on humans by Joseph Von Mering, a clinical pharmacologist. Along with Paracetamol, another drug, phenacetin, was also experimented with, and a combined paper was published on the study of clinical effects of the two drugs in humans. As a result, Paracetamol emerged as one of the most successful drugs in the treatment of pain and fever as compared to all the other aniline derivatives. The importance of the discovery can be realized from the fact that Paracetamol has still taken over the market and is a part of millions and billions of prescriptions daily worldwide.