Xanax has become such a popular and widely-used drug that it can almost seem like a normal, everyday part of life for people in the U.S., but have you ever wondered who invented Xanax and how this anti-anxiety drug became such a pervasive part of life for so many people?
Benzodiazepines have a chemical makeup that includes a benzene ring and a diazepine ring, and the initial discovery was an accident. After Dr. Leo Sternbach’s discovery, the Librium drug was made available in 1960 to the public.
Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter. This results in sedation, and muscle relaxant properties, among other effects.
By 1977, benzodiazepines, in general, were the most prescribed medicines in the world.
By the 1980s there started to be some concern in the medical community about the use of benzos, despite the fact that they were so widely prescribed and had largely replaced barbiturates. Doctors started to see the risk of dependence, and there was a large-scale class action lawsuit that resulted from this as well.
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Upjohn Laboratories developed this medication in the late 1960s. Dr. David Sheehan can primarily be credited with inventing Xanax because he became involved with Upjohn and saw the potential effectiveness of Xanax in the treatment of anxiety and panic.
Around the time alprazolam was introduced, there were other antidepressants available, but they tended to have toxic side effects.
The Upjohn company initially submitted the drug to the FDA as a treatment for anxiety, but they revised that because they saw its benefits in treating panic disorder. There was also a lack of drugs available to treat panic specifically, so they saw this as a market opening.
Upjohn first released alprazolam in 1981, and the first approved use was for panic disorder.
To sum up the answer to the question of who invented Xanax, it was Upjohn Laboratories, following work on benzos done by other researchers including Dr. Sternbach.
Now alprazolam is available under the name Xanax, and it is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance by the U.S. DEA. The DEA describes a schedule IV drug as one that has a low risk of abuse and dependence, although this is pretty controversial regarding Xanax.
While alprazolam and ultimately Xanax were created to help people deal with panic disorders and anxiety and the person who invented Xanax submitted it to the FDA for these reasons, there has been some research and evidence since that time that dependence and abuse of the drug is certainly possible.
The increase in these admittances closely mirrors the rise in legal prescriptions written for Xanax, as well as other types of alprazolam, indicating there may be a relationship between the legal use of Xanax and related drugs and their abuse.
Since the person who invented Xanax introduced it to the market, it has grown in popularity, and it has also become rather controversial. The spotlight is often on Xanax and similar drugs because of the debate over whether or not they carry a high risk of misuse. Some experts say it’s low, while others maintain the risk of abuse is high with this drug. Some of the reasons it’s thought to be a drug with a high risk for abuse include not only the high rate at which it’s prescribed, and the anecdotal evidence, but also factors including its short elimination half-life and the fast-acting effects it produces.
If you or someone you know needs help stopping Xanax or another drug, The Recovery Village® can help. Our addiction professionals are experts in treating addiction to benzodiazepines, other substances and co-occurring mental health conditions. Call today to start the journey to recovery.