The Chemistry of Aspirin

Aspirin, one of the first drugs to come into common usage, is still mostly the widely used in the world – approximately 35,000 metric tonnes are produced and consumed annually, enough to make over 100 billion standard aspirin tablets every year.

Aspirin, also known as ‘acetylsalicylic acid’, has a chemical formula of C9H8O4.

The chemical structure of aspirin:


Aspirin, is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and is an inhibitor of platelet aggregation. It inhibits fatty acid cyclo-oxygenase by acetylation of the active site of enzyme and the pharmacological effects of aspirin are due to the inhibition of the formation of cyclo-oxygenase products including prostglandins, thromboxanes and prostacyclin.

Aspirin is prepared by chemical synthesis from salicylic acid, by acetylation with acetic anhydride.