Aspirin is a white crystalline powder with a melting point of 135°C. The common chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. Its systematic name is 2-(acetyloxy) benzoic acid. This is the information according to Wikipedia and does accurately describe the ACTIVE ingredient in a bottle of Bayer aspirin.
What I learned recently when I went to buy a simple bottle of aspirin at a local drug store is not to assume that the simple old Bayer aspirin (as described above) of days past is the same one that is being pushed today.
As I perused the shelf for the familiar label, it was non existent and what I saw were newer, more colorful and I guess you call it updated modern ‘catch the eye’ red/orange and yellow boxes of a variety of Bayer aspirins lining a 3 foot span. There was Bayer AM and Bayer PM and Bayer Extra Strength and Bayer for Women and Bayer coated, Bayer Back and Body Pain but no Bayer Original. I figured it was just a reflection of the times and I would need to make a choice. I am embarrassed to say I did not read the label before I bought the product. I just made an assumption based on a product that I have used from time to time over many decades. I thought it was safer/milder than acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil). I hardly ever even take an aspirin and usually opt for a proteolytic enzyme for muscle or backpain or even an occasional headache; but this was not for me it was for someone else in the office. When I got back to the office I read the ingredients listed on the back of the box and was appalled… and of course I threw away the receipt on my way out of the store so forget the refund.
I hope I can at least save anyone reading this the time and effort and money spent before you chose to buy one of the new improved Bayer aspirin varieties because in addition to the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid you also get a plethora of disgusting and unhealthy inactive ingredients. According to Familydoctor.org, “An inactive ingredient is a chemical compound in the medicine that isn’t meant to treat a symptom. Since theses inactive ingredients are not purposeful to treat the symptom why use them at all?
I find no logical reason to put artificial colors mixed in a lab with petrochemicals known to cause health problems along side shellac, propylene glycol and hypromelose which is used primarily in formulas for dry eyes (and is not without side deleterious effects) in an over the counter medication that is supposed to alleviate pain.
I called the Bayer Healthcare Consumer information number to ask some questions pertaining to the Inactive ingredient list. After listening to the litany of choices for the pharmaceutical products (mostly diabetes medication) I was offered the consumer relations person who answered the call with “Bayer Healthcare, may I have your name please.” Not wanting to be on the Bayer hit list I gave only my first name and proceeded with my questions regarding the nasty ingredients in this particular Bayer product. I relayed my frustration of not finding the original Bayer Aspirin product on the shelf and he told me it is up to the store to decide what products to offer but they did still manufacture the Original Bayer Aspirin. I then asked why the dyes were necessary as well as the other potentially harmful inactive ingredients in the new Bayer formulas. I was told it is an FDA mandate that they distinguish their products this way. I was told that the ingredients are all FDA approved. My customer service representative was getting rather annoyed with me as was obvious with the tension and pitch of his voice and repetitive responses. The representative was certainly not trained in diplomacy and from the get go was defensive. I was curtly informed that Original Bayer is not without its inactive ingredient list of carnuba wax and something called triacetin (Eastman™ triacetin (glyceryl triacetate) is a plasticizer for cellulose resins and is compatible in all proportions with cellulose acetate, nitrocellulose, and ethyl cellulose.)
Eastman™ triacetin imparts plasticity and flow to laminating resins, particularly at low temperature, and is also a plasticizer for vinylidene polymers and copolymers. As a specialty solvent, this product has low volatility and low toxicity. In some pharmaceutical preparations, this product is a solvent and a carrier for flavoring agents. Applications also include compounding perfumes as a solvent and a fixative. Eastman™ triacetin can also be used in inks for printing on plastics and nonabsorbent surfaces. For additional information about triacetin, see Eastman publication L-148.) Does this description sound like a necessary component of something you would ingest?
Once again we are faced with the problem of Big Money interest caring little for the overall health of the population and presenting poisons as a viable treatment for those unsuspecting shoppers who may be desperately looking for something to help with their pain and suffering. As much and as many times as I have written about looking at labels I neglected to follow my own advice. I did learn something, however and that is a benefit of looking at one’s mistakes. If I can save another from making this mistake then it is all worthwhile and I once again repeat my mantra to look at the ingredients before you buy. If you do not recognize the ingredient, find out what it is before you buy it.
There is no such thing as a ‘simple’ bottle of aspirin. Do not make the mistake of thinking inactive means there is no impact on your body or health; it only means that it is not specific to the action of the drug.
Inactive Ingredients in Bayer Back and Body formula: Carnauba (Copernicia Cerifera) Wax, Cornstarch, D&C Red 30, D&C Yellow 10 (CI 74005), Hypromellose, Cellulose (Powdered), Propylene Glycol, Shellac, Titanium Dioxide, Triacetin