Paracetamol (or acetaminophen) is a common analgesic, a drug that is used to relieve pain. It can also be used to reduce fever, and some kinds of headache. This makes it an antipyretic, something that reduces fevers. It is used in many drugs that treat the flu and colds.
The words acetaminophen and paracetamol both come from the names of the chemicals used in the compound: N-acetyl-para-aminophenol and para-acetyl-amino-phenol. Sometimes, it is shortened to APAP, for N-acetyl-para-aminophenol.
Harmon Northrop Morse was the first to make Paracetamol, in the year 1878. Drugs made with Paracetamol became common in the 1950s. Today, these drugs are some of the most used, together with those containing salicylic acid or Ibuprofen. In the year 1977, Paracetamol was put on the List of Essential Medicines of the WHO.
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Julius Axelrod (pictured) and Bernard Brodie demonstrated that acetanilide and phenacetin are both metabolised to paracetamol, which is a better tolerated analgesic.
Paracetamol Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.