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  Learning to Make Opiates Without Flowers

In the early 1970s, a severe opium shortage was created by increased demand, poor poppy crops, a Turkish ban on poppy cultivation, and the Soviet Union's entry as a buyer of opium on the world market. In 1973, 45% of the United States' strategic stockpile of opium had to be released for domestic use. Finding a way to manufacture totally synthetic opium products from readily available materials became imperative.

On January 22, 1979, Dr. Kenner Rice of the LMC discovered the critical chemical reaction enabling large-scale production of totally synthetic morphine, codeine, and thebaine, the three basic raw materials in opium. As shown in his laboratory journal, the initial sign of success was the identical chromatographic behavior of Dr. Rice's product and an authentic sample from opium. Dr. Rice's method, now internationally known as the NIH Total Opiate Synthesis, is still the only practical process available for making large quantities of opium products from synthetic materials, guaranteeing reliable supplies of opiate pain relievers.

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A Page from Dr. Rice's Laboratory Journal

A Page from Dr. Rice's Laboratory Journal
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