Pyridine in Medicine: Uses & Synthesis

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Would you want to take a medication that smelled like putrid fish? Probably not. But a chemical compound with this precise smell is used to help manufacture medication. Learn about its medical uses and synthesis in this lesson.


Imagine the smell of sour, decaying fish. Pleasant, right? That's the smell of a chemical compound called pyridine. It's a substance that has many uses, including uses in medicine. That's what you're going to learn about in this lesson, the uses of pyridine and how it's made.


Let's start off with the latter. If we were to cook up some pyridine at home (which we shouldn't), we wouldn't use sour cream and decaying fish as our ingredients. Instead, we'd mix a batch of a few chemicals called: acetaldehyde, ammonia and formaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a substance that's used to make acetic acid and perfumes. Ammonia, you've probably heard of. Ammonia is used to help make fertilizers, and it's produced by our own body as a byproduct of various reactions. Formaldehyde is probably familiar to you as well if you've ever worked in a lab. Formaldehyde is used to help preserve specimens of all sorts.

So, those are our three base ingredients. You'd also want to sprinkle a bit of a catalyst on top of all of that. A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a biochemical reaction. You'd take this mixture and 'cook it' (react it) at 250-500 degrees Celsius at atmospheric pressure and voila! You've got yourself some foul-smelling pyridine.


Pyridine has many uses. It is found in or can be used to help make dyes and solvent. But this lesson is mainly about its use in medicine. Pyridine in its pure, and thus, concentrated form can actually be quite harmful. Instead, you'll find pyridine's chemical structure in various medications that are synthesized thanks in part to pyridine. Let's go over some of these medications.


One example is a medication called esomeprazole, the generic name for Nexium. This is a medication that's used to treat GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. In short, this condition entails the reflux of stomach acid up into the esophagus. This burns and irritates the esophagus, which results in a feeling we commonly call heartburn.


Another example of a pyridine containing medication is loratadine, more commonly known by its brand name of Claritin. Loratadine helps in the treatment of allergies. For example, if you're allergic to pollen or dust and have sneezing and itchy eyes as a result, your doctor might prescribe loratadine.

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