Aspirin, 110 years later


Carlo Patrono, Istituto di Farmacologia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Largo F. Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy.
Tel.: +39 06 30154253; fax: +39 06 3050159.


Summary.  Although conceived at the end of the 19th century as a synthetic analgesic agent with improved gastric tolerability vs. naturally occurring salicylates, acetylsalicylic acid (marketed as aspirin in 1899) turned out to be an ideal antiplatelet agent about 90 years later, following the understanding of its mechanism of action, the development of a mechanism-based biomarker for dose-finding studies, and the initiation of a series of appropriately sized, randomized clinical trials to test its efficacy and safety at low doses given once daily. At the turn of its 110th anniversary, aspirin continues to attract heated debates on a number of issues including (i) the optimal dose to maximize efficacy and minimize toxicity; (ii) the possibility that some patients may be ‘resistant’ to its antiplatelet effects; and (iii) the balance of benefits and risks in primary vs. secondary prevention.