Cases

The Rise and Fall of LSD

February 16, 2015

Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist employed by Sandoz, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, developed several medicines from lysergic acid, which lowered blood pressure and improved brain function in the elderly. Having derived the 25th in a series of derivatives, Hofmann developed lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD-25. Becoming exposed during the process, Hofmann reported that he was in a “dreamlike state” and “perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.” After trials on animals, Sandoz gave LSD to research institutes and doctors to use in psychiatric experiments on both healthy and mentally ill subjects. The research was compelling enough to convince Sandoz to patent LSD for use in analytical psychotherapy.

Wenderoth was hired by Sandoz to obtain the U.S. patent on LSD. In 1947, it was marketed by Sandoz as DELYSIDTM, and in the 1950s and 1960s it was used in psychiatry to enhance psychotherapy. However, LSD had numerous adverse psychological effects, which became apparent during its widespread recreational use by the youth culture in the 1960s. In 1968, possession of LSD was made illegal in the U.S.