Who Invented the Hypodermic Needle or Syringe Needle

The Development of Needles and Syringes

Forms of intravenous injection and infusion began as early as 1670, but Charles Gabriel Pravaz and Alexander Wood were the first to develop a syringe with a needle fine enough to pierce the skin in 1853. It was the first used to inject morphine as a painkiller.

Extract from: "Blood and Blood Transfusions," Major R. Ellison, Surgeon 33rd Regiment, 1st Brigade Virginia Vol. 

Many of the technical difficulties which had faced those experimenting with blood transfusion were removed after 1853 by the invention of the hypodermic syringe with its hollow, pointed needle.

Credit for the evolution of this universally useful appliance is usually given to Doctor Alexander Wood, who was appointed Secretary of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1850. For some time, Dr. Wood had been experimenting with a hollow needle for the administration of drugs. Eventually, he felt confident enough to publish a short paper in The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Review: “A New Method of Treating Neuralgia by the Direct Application of Opiates to the Painful Points.” He showed that the method was not necessarily limited to the administration of opiates. At about the same time, Charles Gabriel Pravaz of Lyon was making a similar syringe which quickly came into use in many surgeries under the name of the “Pravaz Syringe.”

Vaccination Syringes

Benjamin A. Rubin is credited with inventing the "pronged vaccinating and testing needle" or vaccination needle. This was a refinement to the conventional syringe needle.

Edward Jenner performed the first vaccination. An English country doctor, he began to study the link between smallpox and a milder disease, cowpox. By injecting one boy with cowpox, he found that the boy became immune to smallpox. Edward Jenner published his findings in 1798. Within three years, 100,000 people in Britain had been vaccinated against smallpox.


The History of Disposable Syringes

Arthur E. Smith received eight U.S. patents for disposables syringe from in 1949 and 1950.

Becton, Dickinson and Company created the first mass-produced disposable syringe and needle, produced in glass, in 1954. The syringe was developed for Dr. Jonas Salk's mass administration of one million American children with the new Salk polio vaccine.

Roehr Products introduced a plastic disposable hypodermic syringe called the Monoject in 1955.

Colin Murdoch, a pharmacist from Timaru, New Zealand, patented a plastic disposable syringe to replace the glass syringe in 1956. Murdoch patented a total of 46 inventions, including a silent burglar alarm, automatic syringes for vaccinating animals, the childproof bottle top, and the tranquilizer gun.  

Becton Dickinson introduced its first plastic disposable syringe, the Plastipak, in 1961.

African American inventor Phil Brooks received a U.S. patent for a disposable syringe on April 9, 1974.

The Microneedle

The microneedle device is a painless alternative to the needle and syringe. Mark Prausnitz, a chemical engineering professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology, teamed up with electrical engineer Mark Allen to develop the prototype microneedle device.

It is made up of 400 silicon-based microscopic needles, each the width of a human hair, and looks something like the nicotine quit-smoking patch. Its tiny, hollow needles are so small that any medication can be delivered through the skin without reaching the nerve cells that create pain. Microelectronics within the device control the time and dosage of the medicine delivered.


PowderJect Pharmaceuticals of Fremont, California created the hypospray, a device that uses pressurized helium to spray dry powdered medicines on the skin for absorption.

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Bellis, Mary. "Who Invented the Hypodermic Needle or Syringe Needle." ThoughtCo, Aug. 18, 2016, thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-hypodermic-needle-4075653. Bellis, Mary. (2016, August 18). Who Invented the Hypodermic Needle or Syringe Needle. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-hypodermic-needle-4075653 Bellis, Mary. "Who Invented the Hypodermic Needle or Syringe Needle." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-hypodermic-needle-4075653 (accessed November 22, 2017).