Felix Hoffmann

Felix Hoffmann

Felix Hoffmann (21 January 1868 – 8 February 1946) was a German chemist notable for re-synthesizing diamorphine (independently from C.R. Alder Wright who synthesized it 23 years earlier), which was popularized under the Bayer trade name of "heroin". He is also credited with synthesizing aspirin, though whether he did this under his own initiative or under the instruction of Arthur Eichengrün is contested.


Felix Hoffmann was born on 21 January 1868 in Ludwigsburg, Germany, the son of an industrialist. In 1889, he started studying chemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to study pharmacy and ended it in 1890 with the pharmaceutical state exam. In 1891 he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Munich. Two years later he earned his doctorate, also magna cum laude, after completing his thesis entitled "On certain derivatives of dihydroanthracene".[1] In 1894, he joined Bayer as a research chemist.

On 10 August 1897 Hoffmann synthesized acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) while working at Bayer under Arthur Eichengrün. By combining salicylic acid with acetic acid, he succeeded in creating ASA in a chemically pure and stable form. The pharmacologist responsible for verifying these results was skeptical at first, yet once several large-scale studies to investigate the substance's efficacy and tolerability had been completed, it was found to be an analgesic, antipyretic and antiinflammatory substance. The company then worked to develop a cost-effective production process that would facilitate the promising active ingredient to be supplied as a pharmaceutical product. In 1899 it was marketed for the first time under the trade name "Aspirin", initially as a powder supplied in glass bottles.[2]

He also synthesized diamorphine (heroin), previously achieved by Charles Romley Alder Wright.[2]

Following the synthesis of aspirin, Hoffmann moved to the pharmaceutical marketing department where he stayed until his retirement in 1928. He was granted full power of attorney over Aspirin.[1]

Hoffman was never married and died without issue on 8 February 1946 in Switzerland.

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