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.