In the latter half of the 19th century quinine, made form the bark of the cinchona tree was used as a cure for fever. Because of this the tree became scarcer and cheaper, synthetic alternatives were needed instead. Two of the drugs that were developed for this task included: acetanilide in 1886, and phenacetin in 1887. Both of which had the advantage of possessing both antipyretic and analgesic properties. Paracetamol was in-fact first synthesised 8 years previous to this by Harmon Northrop Morse in 1878, through the reduction of p-nitrophenol with tin in glacial acetic acid. In 1893 it was discovered that paracetamol had similar analgesic and antipyretic properties to acetanilide and phenacetin. However, it was not until 1948 that Brodie and Axelrod were able prove that paracetamol was actually the major metabolite of the latter chemicals. This was closely followed by the introduction of the 500mg tablets to the UK in 1956. .
"Paracetamol is a white, odourless crystalline powder with a bitter taste, soluble in 70 parts of water (1 in 20 with boiling water) or 7 parts of alcohol (95%)" (http://www.pharmweb.net). It has the formula C8H9NO2 and is also known as acetaminophen. Paracetamol relieves pain and fever and it is the most widely accepted medicine for this purpose in the UK. "The analgesic properties of paracetamol will last for around four hours." (http://www.assistpainrelief.com). Paracetamol's primary use is for this pain relief property and is available in both prescription and "over-the-counter" forms. Its analgesic (pain relief) and antipyretic (fever relief) effects are similar to those of aspirin and it works in a similar way. Unlike aspirin, however, it does not result in any anti-inflammatory process and is, therefore, not of value in the treatment of chronic rheumatic diseases such as arthritis like the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.