Novocain is a local anesthetic (painkiller) used by doctors and dentists. It was developed as a substitute for cocaine in 1905 by German researcher Alfred Einhorn. The trade name Novocain comes from the Latin word "novus," meaning "new," plus "cocaine." Other synthetic substitutes for cocaine include tropocaine, aucaine, monocaine, and lignocaine.
Cocaine as a Local Anesthetic
Cocaine was widely used as a local anesthetic after Carl Koller (1857-1944) demonstrated the drug's effectiveness in 1884. By the end of the 1800s, however, the addictive properties of cocaine were recognized. Doctors knew they needed a substitute for cocaine's anesthetic effect. They began to carefully study the structure of cocaine for possible alternatives. Many of the first synthetic cocaine products were too irritating to use. The first successful cocaine substitute was stovaine, invented by Ernest Fourneau (1872-1949) in 1904.
Soon after Einhorn's discovery of novocain, Guido Fisher popularized the drug's use in the United States. Injected by a needle, novocain immediately became popular as a local anesthetic for both medical and dental purposes.