CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) alumnus and engineering professor emeritus George Rieveschl, PhD, known for inventing Benadryl, the world’s first effective antihistamine, died today at Christ Hospital, Cincinnati. He was 91.
A long-time supporter of the College of Medicine and the university as a whole, Dr. Rieveschl developed the widely used treatment for allergy 61 years ago.
Dr. Rieveschl was also the founding chairman of the University Foundation Board of Trustees.
Rieveschl was a chemistry professor at UC when he invented Benadryl.
He found to this surprise that a two-part compound he was originally testing to improve muscle-relaxing medications dramatically blocked histamine, the naturally released chemical that narrows air passages in the lungs and causes inflammation.
This breakthrough led, in 1946, to Benadryl’s becoming the first FDA-approved prescription antihistamine. First produced by Parke, Davis and Company, the drug is now distributed over-the-counter by the Parke-Davis division of Pfizer.
A 1937 alumnus of UC, Dr. Rieveschl spent 26 years working in the chemical industry as both a scientist and a consultant before returning to UC in 1970.
He is survived by his wife, Ellen, and two sons.