Why Is Heroin Called Heroin?

Why Is Heroin Called Heroin?

Before there was heroin, there was opium. By the late 1800’s, opium had begun to gain notoriety as a cure-all – it was even touted as a substance that could cure alcoholism, at one point.

As is often the case in a capitalistic society, pharmaceutical companies took notice. In, 1895, Felix Hoffman, a Bayer chemist working under the supervision of Heinrich Dreser, was instructed to produce a codeine variant from morphine. The objective was to create a drug less addictive and potent than morphine, which could also alleviate addiction to morphine. As we now know, the result of Hoffman’s work did just the opposite – the product was a substance as many as two times more powerful than morphine.

In 1898, the new chemical compound was trademarked by Friedrich Bayer & Co. under the name Heroin. The name was taken from the Greek heros, to imply Bayer’s claim that the drug would imbue heroic qualities upon its user.  The ‘ine‘ was added as a suffix because it indicates chemical properties.

Does Bayer Still Own The Trademark On Heroin?

No, Bayer does not still own the trademark on heroin. Bayer was forced to relinquish the rights to heroin in several key regions in the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. In particular, Bayer lost the rights to heroin in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia when the German company’s assets were seized as a part of the peace agreement with Germany.