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June 2006 Issue

Jane Henney, MD, presents Benadryl inventor George Rieveschl, PhD, with a city proclamation noting May 16 as "60 Years of Benadryl" day.
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Millions of Allergy Sufferers Still Thank George Rieveschl

By Jill Hafner
Published June 2006

The man who continues to help the world breathe more easily was honored by UC for his discovery during a reception held May 16.


George Rieveschl, PhD, invented the drug Benadryl, the world’s first effective antihistamine. He was recognized by UC officials in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the drug, commonly used to treat allergy symptoms, such as hay fever, rashes and hives.


Dr. Rieveschl was a chemical engineering professor at UC when he discovered that his new, two-part compound, originally tested to improve muscle-relaxing medications, dramatically blocked histamine, a chemical released in the body that narrows air passages in the lungs and causes inflammation.


This "surprising" breakthrough led to Benadryl becoming the first FDA-approved prescription antihistamine in 1946. The drug was first produced by Parke, Davis and Company, but is now distributed over-the-counter by the Parke-Davis division of Pfizer, Inc.


Despite being one of the oldest antihistamines on the market, Benadryl is still considered one of the most effective, either by prescription or over-the-counter.


In addition to treating allergies, the drug is used to prevent and treat motion sickness, induce sleep, control Parkinson's disease symptoms and relieve cough caused by minor throat or airway irritation.


Dr. Rieveschl is currently a professor emeritus of environmental engineering at UC.

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