Monday, October 01, 2007

Inventor Of Benadryl

George Rieveschl invented Benadryl in the 1940s while doing research on potential muscle relaxers. In doing so, he discovered more about histamine receptors in the body which allowed for the development of even more drugs to interact with those specific receptors. Allergy-sufferers the world over have breathed more easily ever since.

I am happy to learn that he profited nicely from his invention. He deserved it.

Because he had invented the drug before he worked for the company [Parke-Davis], Dr. Rieveschl received a 5 percent royalty for the 17-year length of the patent. Based on sales that rose to about $6 million a year by the early 1960s, that proved quite lucrative for him. . . .

As a lifelong sufferer from severe allergies, I can't begin to imagine how many times I personally must have taken Benadryl, including before it was allowed to be sold OTC. Benadryl possibly saved my son's life the night of his peanut kaboom. I gave him some before the paramedics arrived and that calmed his reaction somewhat until they got here. My quick-thinking and having that drug handy definitely bought Ryan some valuable time that night.

It's so easy to take these drugs for granted: Benadryl, Tylenol, auto-injectable epinephrine, human insulin, Sudafed (especially Sudafed these days!). It's worth taking a few moments every once in a while to recognize the tremendous effort of mind and will that it took to develop these medicines that are now so common that we forget--or never knew--a time in which they did not exist. How different our lives would be today without them! And how exciting to know that there are other people out there currently working on the next common household medicine which will improve our lives.

George Rieveschl died this past weekend at the age of 91. He was a real hero and I salute him and thank him.


Laura said...

My husband also has a severe peanut allergy. His first attack was at 3 years old. Benadryl also bought him valuable time on the way to the hospital.

My husband is curious at how young kids are coping with peanut allergies. While there's much more awareness now, we've seen it have a negative effect on kids and their parents. We've heard from some that are very fearful (which I understand) and it's causing their kids to feel like outsiders. My husband wants to let these kids know that a normal life is absolutely attainable.

I'm curious to know how you feel about it.

Rational Jenn said...

I LOVE hearing stories of adults who have successfully managed their food allergies and are living happy lives. Because that is the ultimate goal for our kids--that they grow up to live happy lives.

In my son's and your husband's cases, they have an extra risk to contend with, which poses extra limitations on the choices they make. Everyone takes risks--that's part of life. Unfortunately, some people have risks imposed upon them--food allergies, diabetes (my husband is insulin-dependent), an accident, what have you. The trick is to balance the risk by making good choices and work around those limitations.

I think our son has had normal childhood experiences despite his allergy. No, he's never eaten an M&M and a field trip to the peanut farm is out. He's never been to a circus or a baseball game--because of his allergy. (We might do those things some day, just not while he's so little and we are also having our toddler avoid peanuts.)

Instead of focusing on what he can't do because of the allergy, we focus on the things he can. He can go to the fire station field trip. He can eat Tootsie Rolls. We can go to Disney World. We are upfront with him about his limitations--since one mistake has such dire consequences. But when he does show frustration with it, we try to help him see that there are still lots and lots of things he can eat and places he can go and friends and family who love him.

It can be easy to get caught up in the fear of it all. But I don't want my children to miss out on fun things. As long as we are able to take reasonable precautions and we always have our medicine with us, we will probably give it a try. I do think that we are lucky (in a sense) that we only have one food allergy to deal with. Things would be much more difficult to balance if my kid(s) had multiple food allergies. But I know that we would find a way to have fun AND be safe.

The thing I'm most concerned about is making sure he knows how serious it is without scaring him so that HE won't want to take reasonable risks. I think about dumb things I've done in my life and some of them will be more risky for him. But he's just 5, so I guess we'll cross that bridge later. How did your husband's parents handle his allergy growing up?

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Yes! And yay!

I am thankful everyday for the wonder that is Nasonex. Without it I would have a horrible hay fever, be pretty much dysfunctional, and feel terrible all the time. But with it its like I never had allergies at all.



Laura said...

Dear Rational Jenn,

This is Evan, Laura's husband I just read your blog and in answering your question my parents as you are very aware of had no real information other then treatment w/Benadryl or to keep clear of anything w/peanuts. You can imagine how scarey that is back then when the FDA did not force food manufacturers to label their ingredients. At least there are laws in place making it easier for those of us w/allergies to live normal lives.

I have been to several allergy conferences and they all have been helpful so if you get a chance you might look into any near you. Soon I will be attempting to start my own company w/the single purpose of helping families like yours and other individuals that have food allergies. More or less it would be website linking you w/restaurants that are knoweledgable about food allergies.

As far as lifestyles and coping w/a peanut allergy. Not knowing where you live there are a few professional ball parks that have peanut free zones, believe it or not Atlanta Braves are working on this concept of all places Georgia who would have guessed. Other then that I can tell you what I told the moms I sat w/the conference that you son as you are well aware of will have a normal life just like every other kid. The difference is he will be a great/creative cook/chef and he will be very healthy just based on his diet. He will also be ahead of his time medically since we will know terms like anaphylaxis and what epinephrine shots can prevent. His siblings and friends will also benefit especially this month when they go trick or treating since he will be collecting for them :) Of course this being said he will more then likely be the dentists best friend w/lack of cavaties.

I was very fortunate I surrounded myself w/good friends which I had plenty of even having a peanut allergy. I only say this because at the conferences these moms could not believe their child was going to have a normal life. Well I have friends, I was a great athlete, girlfriends the whole bit and to top it off I am a great cook w/no cavities at the age of 35.

If you want I will certainly email you when I get my company going, talk is cheap and I have been mostly talk but the only way it will grow since I have no $ will be through word of mouth. That being said you will find and maybe you already have there is a huge population that is joined together by food allergies and it is very closely networked all w/the same goal to be able to live a happy and healthly life. Not sure if this is legal but let me know if you want me to email you my hotmail acct so I can reach you guys later. I hope this info has helped you and your family.

Yours truly,


mama o' the matrices said...

Hmm. I remember the day that I found corn in my kid's Benadryl. I felt so betrayed - Benadryl has really become a staple around here!

Wonder if they sell it by the gallon?

Anne D said...

I love Benadryl! My two boys are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and eggs.

I have often said how great it is and I can't imagine not having it around. Like in this post ...

Anway, Yeah Dr. Rieveschl!!