The drug Ritalin sometimes given to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy was first formulated in Switzerland.
In 1944, Leandro Panizzon synthesized methylphenidate in Basel while working for CIBA (now Novartis). He tested the drug on himself and his wife Marguerite, nicknamed Rita.
Rita played tennis and the drug improved her performance on the court. Panizzon decided to name the drug Ritalin after his wife.
In 1955, the US FDA licensed the drug for medical use but it wasn’t until the 1990s that its use really took off. In 2011, around 7% of US children were taking some form of ADHD medication. In 2016, 18.6 tons of methylphenidate pills were taken in the US alone.
Closely related to amphetamine, more commonly known as speed, the prescription drug Ritalin increases heart rate and can reduce appetite, cause nausea and worsen symptoms of psychosis – click here for a longer list of potential effects.