<b style="font-size: 14px;">TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Leo
Sternbach, the inventor of a revolutionary new class of tranquilizers
that included Valium, one of the first blockbuster "lifestyle" drugs,
has died at his home in North Carolina. He was 97.[/b]
an award-winning chemist who helped the Swiss drug conglomerate Roche
Group build its U.S. headquarters in Nutley, New Jersey, after fleeing
the Nazis during World War II, died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina,
after a short illness late Wednesday.
His wife, sons and other relatives were at his side, according to the company.
Austrian native who said he loved chemistry from his youth, Sternbach
led development of more than a dozen important drugs during a
six-decade career with Roche.
His other breakthroughs include
the sleeping pills Dalmane and Mogadon, Klonopin for epileptic seizures
and Arfonad for limiting bleeding during brain surgery.
was the country's most prescribed drug from 1969 to 1982. Nicknamed
"Mother's Little Helper" after the Rolling Stones song, it was three
times more potent than its predecessor, Librium, another member of the
class of tranquilizers invented by Sternbach.
Roche sold nearly 2.3 billion Valium pills stamped with the trademark "V" at the drug's 1978 peak.
gave you a feeling of well-being," Sternbach told The Associated Press
in a 2003 interview on the 40th anniversary of Valium. "Only when the
sales figures came in, then I realized how important it was."
was born in 1908 in Abbazia, part of the Austrian Empire that today is
Croatia, and earned a doctoral degree in organic chemistry at the
University of Krakow in Poland. He began working at Roche's Basel
headquarters in 1940 and in June 1941 fled to the United States with
his new bride and the rest of Roche's Jewish scientists.
his wife, Herta, settled in Montclair, near Roche's U.S. operations,
called Hoffman-La Roche, raised two sons and lived there until 2003,
when they moved to North Carolina, where son Daniel works as a chemist
Named one of the 25 most influential
Americans of the 20th century by U.S. News & World Report,
Sternbach's credits include 241 patents, 122 publications, honorary
degrees and other awards.
As recently as 1994, Roche products for
which Sternbach held patents brought in more than one-quarter of the
company's worldwide pharmaceutical revenues.
Besides his wife and son Daniel, Sternbach is survived by his other son, Michael, and five grandchildren.