July 04, 2016
You may need me after a hectic holiday weekend.
What molecule am I?
Image of Diazepam 3D Image of Diazepam

Diazepam—much better known by its major trade name Valium—is a popular tranquilizer. Its synthesis was first reported by L. H. Sternbach and E. Reeder at Hoffmann-La Roche in 1961. The same researchers were awarded a process patent in 1963 and composition-of-matter patents in 1964 and 1968 on diazepam and several similar compounds.

Hoffmann-La Roche launched Valium in 1963. For most years until its patents ran out in 1985, it was the highest-selling drug in the United States. After it became generic, its cost plummeted. In the United States, it now costs about 40¢ per dose, but it can be bought for the equivalent of a penny per dose in some countries.

Serious side effects from the normal use of diazepam are rare. Overdoses can result in symptoms as serious as coma, but are not usually fatal. But when overdoses are combined with alcohol or opiate intake, the fatality rate increases.

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