The principal over-the-counter mild analgesics possess antipyretic/anti-inflammatory properties (the salicylates) and antipyretic properties (acetaminophen). These drugs have long been available, are widely used throughout the world, and in general are well tolerated. Despite long-term global experience with both drugs (the salicylates were introduced 80 years ago, and acetaminophen has been in clinical use since 1893), only in the last decade have many of the fundamental pharmacologic properties of both drugs yielded to investigation. This special issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine is devoted to a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the clinical properties, similarities, and dissimilarities of these two compounds. It came about as a result of a lively conference held in Washington, DC, between internationally preeminent scientists and clinical investigators, with an audience consisting of clinicians, scientists, and allied health professionals.
We open with Dr Ramwell's review of the known mechanisms of action of both drugs, the concepts