Bayer once sold heroin as a cold and pain medicine. And they’re how the drug its name. The drug, which Bayer sold from the 1890s through as recently as 1912, was promoted as having “heroic” properties, which led to the then-brand-name Heroin.
Heroin hydrochlor jar, late 19th century. Bayer, Germany. Via Guardian
Felix Hoffmann, who also created Aspirine, produced synthetical Heroin in 1896/97. It was offered as a powder or tincture, a bottle contained up to 25 gram substance. In 1899 it was already exported to 23 countries, supported by a huge advertising campaign.
Opium, and the heroin that can be created from the opium poppy, have a long medical history in the country as well. Opium was used to calm cranky babies in the 1830s and as a treatment for asthma. Morphine, also created from opium, was used as a pain reliever during the Civil War. In 1895, the pharmaceutical company Bayer synthesized heroin for the first time, and Bayer Heroin was released in 1898. Heroin was actually a brand name Bayer created, not just some street name for the drug. Since many people became addicted to morphine during and after the Civil War, Bayer Heroin was used as a pain reliever that could help people get rid of their morphine addiction. This backfired. Using heroin for recreational or medicinal uses became illegal in the U.S. under the Heroin Act of 1924.