Invented Benadryl antihistamine
(1916 - 2007)
Major Field of Study: Chemistry
Home Town: Lockland, Ohio
Bachelor’s Degree: University of Cincinnati, Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, 1937
Master’s Degree: University of Cincinnati, Master of Science, Chemistry, 1939
Doctoral Degree: University of Cincinnati, PhD, Chemistry, 1940
Engineering and Science Achievements:
While testing muscle-relaxing drugs as an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the early 1940’s, Rieveschel synthesized the antihistamine compound that he named Benadryl. Antihistamines counteract the effects of histamine, an inflammatory naturally-occurring substance produced by the human body. The first antihistamine, neoantergan, had been developed prior to Rieveschel’s discovery, but it caused severe drowsiness. Benadryl, on the other hand, was proven to be more tolerable to most users, and in 1946 it became the first antihistamine prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Available over the counter today, Benadryl is commonly used to treat many conditions, including allergies, colds, rashes, itching, watery eyes, hives and hay fever.
Rieveschel started out in hopes of becoming a commercial artist after graduating from the Ohio Mechanics Institute of Technology in 1933. Fortunately, as it turned out, for the world’s many allergy sufferers, he was unable to find any work in that field during the Great Depression, and he moved on to his career in chemistry.
In 1943, Rieveschel went to work for the pharmaceutical firm Parke-Davis, where he took Benadryl for further testing prior to marketing. Having developed the drug before joining the company, he received royalties on its sales for the 17-year patent period. He was named the company’s Vice President of Commercial Development in 1961.
Leaving Parke-Davis in 1965, Rieveschel worked as a private consultant until 1970, when he returned to the University of Cincinnati as Vice President of Research. He retired from his alma mater in 1982.
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