Aspiring Aspirin: My Story of fixing everything.
I’ve been called many things. Miracle worker. Pretender. Overhyped. Panacea. I’ve never paid much heed to what they called me. But from the very beginning, humans understood my potential. They found the old me in willow bark, they sourced me from different parts of the tree. The Ancient Greeks and Egyptians knew of my power. However it was a long time before a scientist at Bayer in Germany tamed me, hardly a few centuries back. Until they restricted my power with an acetyl group and buffered me, I could put humans into comas if they weren’t careful while dealing with me.
Once they thought I was domesticated, they began mass producing me in copious quantities. And boy, did they know how to mass produce and distribute. It wasn’t long before I became an over the counter drug, sold to any and all who knew my name and could afford me. But they soon realised that I wasn’t a domesticated pet that would do anything they wanted me to.
The last Tsar of Russia was from the Romanov family. His son was prescribed me, the wonder drug. But his problem of bleeding, worsened. For he had haemophilia. This was the first recorded instance of my dark side. Yet the humans persevered to find more of my abilities. And they were rewarded when Doctor Craven observed my protective powers when it came to heart attacks. They were so fascinated by this that they awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine to those who found the secret to my preventive power. Imagine, even after 30+ years, they were so interested in how I worked. Of course once they understood I could effortlessly block prostaglandin synthesis, they sought to put that to further use.
Thus began my new role as analgesic. I was the founding father of the group known as NSAIDs. They called us the New Super Analgesics Incapable of Defeat. (Some say it’s supposed to be Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs, but there are two sides to every story, and this is my story.) Alas, my fame faded fast. Newer drugs were emerging.
New breeds capable of faster action, longer lasting effects and fewer side effects. I was not out of a job, of course. I was far too overqualified for that. But these youngsters were getting all the hype and attention. I’ll admit it, I was jealous of them. I had grown used to having humans using me for everything, so it was disappointing when less of me was being sold.
The worst part was them pinning Reye’s Syndrome on me. Now, I cannot categorically say that I have nothing to do with it, but correlation does not imply causality, and I have never caused the syndrome outright. Yet they started keeping their children away from me, fearing what I might do to their young later.
So I thought about what I could do to help them and become their favourite drug again. I noticed they had realised their own bodies had started rebelling against them. This was quickly becoming one of their biggest concerns. So I turned my prodigious abilities towards fixing this problem they faced.
And so they discovered that I could help them with their fears, especially with colorectal cancer. Which is now on the rise in the so called ‘millenials’. Simultaneously, my rivals, the opioids, lost credibility too, thanks to their increased risk of CVS damage and fractures. My main adverse effects included rashes, heartburn and nausea, mostly. So people preferred me.
If they can accuse me of being linked to Reye’s Syndrome, then they can link me to saving them from their worst fears, too. It only seems fair to me. And yet, my descendants in the NSAID family outsell me year after year. It seems my time truly has ended. I am as I am, I cannot apologise for what I do or cannot do, neither do I want to. But just know that when young drugs see me, they aspire to be me. They’re aspirin’ to be aspirin.