Pre-war Bayer heroin bottle, originally containing 5 grams of Heroin substance.
Heroin, Opium, Narcotic, Psychoactive drug, Addiction, Bayer.
Wright’s invention did not lead to any further developments, and diacetylmorphine only became popular after it was independently re-synthesized 23 years later by another chemist, Felix Hoffmann. Hoffmann, working at the Aktiengesellschaft Farbenfabriken (today the Bayer pharmaceutical company) in Elberfeld, Germany, was instructed by his supervisor Heinrich Dreser to acetylate morphine with the objective of producing codeine, a constituent of the opium poppy, pharmacologically similar to morphine but less potent and less addictive.
Instead the experiment produced an acetylated form of morphine one and a half to two times more potent than morphine itself.
From 1898 through to 1910 diacetylmorphine was marketed under the trademark name Heroin as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. Bayer marketed the drug as a cure for morphine addiction before it was discovered that it rapidly metabolizes into morphine.
As such, diacetylmorphine is essentially a quicker acting form of morphine. The company was embarrassed by the new finding, which became a historic blunder for Bayer.