`Chill pill' eased nerves across nation; Leo Sternbach's invention, Valium, was hit, but addiction soon followed
BY PAULA SCHLEIS
Knight Ridder Newspapers
AKRON, Ohio - (KRT) - There once was a cure for the desperate housewife. It was called Valium.
Today, there are those who would argue that the ``chill pill'' was more curse than cure because of its addictive qualities. But there is no doubt that Valium - still widely used, though more carefully prescribed - is a cultural icon.
It all started with the Great Tranquilizer War of 1954.
Leo Sternbach, a Croatian chemist working in the New Jersey lab of Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., was under the gun to create something to compete against Miltown, an anti-anxiety drug from a rival pharmaceutical company. His superiors suggested he try tinkering with the chemicals used in Miltown, just enough to avoid a patent lawsuit.