Show Summary Details
Page of

The rediscovery of paracetamol 

The rediscovery of paracetamol
The rediscovery of paracetamol

Christophe Mallet

, and Alain Eschalier

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 September 2021

The chapter describes experiments performed by Bernard B. Brodie and Julius Axelrod in an article published in 1948 and entitled ‘The fate of acetanilide in man’. This was an important breakthrough in the history of paracetamol (acetaminophen), which was synthesized in 1878 but only clinically used in 1955. We highlight how this article historically catalysed the rehabilitation (also called ‘the rediscovery’) of this popular over-the-counter painkiller. Demonstrating that paracetamol was the key active metabolite of acetanilide (an antipyretic/analgesic used at that time), and discarding the false idea that paracetamol causes methaemoglobinaemia, Brodie and Axelrod paved the way for this molecule to become nowadays the most sold analgesic worldwide, one which is still the subject of scientific publications.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.