The history of methadone

Methadone is a synthetic drug. It was first invented in Germany during the Second World War by scientists who, having discovered pethidine some years earlier, were developing other similar compounds.

When first invented it was given the name Polamidon. But it wasn't brought into commercial production at all during the war.

After the war the factory where methadone was invented fell under American control and it was they who began the first clinical trials in 1947. The American pharmaceutical company Eli-Lilly first coined the name Dolophine - not in honour of Adolf (as has been thought) but probably as a combination of the Latin word dolor (pain) and the French fin (end),

At first doctors thought methadone would be a revolutionary new painkiller but by the early 1 950s it was hardly being used at all. In 1968 Drs Marie Nyswander and Vincent Dole in America were, looking for drugs to help heroin users when they read about methadone in the medical literature. They found it helped their patients stop using heroin and that tolerance was slow to develop - and methadone maintenance treatment was horn.

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