January 25, 2010

(–)-Codeine is the naturally occurring enantiomer of a polycyclic alkaloid found in the opium poppy. It is used in cough medicines and to treat diarrhea, pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. Commercial amounts were first prepared by methylating morphine, and many complete syntheses of (–)-, (+)-, and racemic codeine have been reported. A new synthesis of the racemic compound was developed last year by P. Magnus and co-workers.

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