Since you touched on my field of expertise (I'm a pharmacist in Colorado), I have something to contribute! Aspirin backfired during the Spanish Flu Pandemic for a couple reasons.
First, this is during the era of "snake oil" medicines that are advertised as being cure-all's. So people took handfuls of aspirin to try to ward off the flu. The widely recommended doses were extremely high by today's standards (8,000-32,000mg compared to 81 or 325mg with a max of 4,000mg) and at that dose it predisposed to lung toxicity and fluid filling the lungs which worked in concert with the flu that also caused lung issues.
Second, in kids, giving aspirin during viral infections can cause Reye syndrome (vomiting, hyperventilation, delirium, and coma, with brain swelling and fat in the liver and proximal renal tubules). This is why aspirin isn't recommended in kids younger than 15 anymore and "children's aspirin" has been changed to "low-dose aspirin" for "heart protection".
Third, aspirin can cause bleeding because it inhibits the platelets which makes it more difficult for blood to clot. (Technically, it isn't an anti-coagulant, but the end result is the same, blood is prevented from clotting. (most people know the term "blood thinner" but it doesn't actually change the viscosity of the blood, it just prevents blood from "thickening") (also, fun fact, a common anti-coagulant, warfarin, is often used as rat poison by causing an overdose and thus uncontrolled bleeding)) So when people infected with the flu started bleeding in their lungs it didn't stop.
Simon mentioned how America has a lot of drug ads. Yes, direct=to=consumer (DTC) ads have drastically changed medicine and pharmacy in America. People tend to then ask for these expensive, brand drugs, despite not necessarily needing them. There have been a lot of studies that show that doctors often just give the patients what they want (and consequently what the drug companies want). One argument for DTC ads is that people may not realize they have a condition or that there is a treatment for it, leading to an improvement in quality of life. An argument against DTC ads is that drug companies sometimes create the problems which they conveniently have the solution for. Another facet is that sometimes someone has a very specific disease and most doctors are better at diagnosing a broad spectrum and often don't have the specialized knowledge needed to treat that specific disease, and sometimes specialists just aren't available in rural areas. In that case the patient sometimes learns more about their condition than the doctors. The internet can be great for this, with access to very specific research and specialists, but that can be hard to separate from the chaff.
Overall, yes this was a very depressing episode, but still facinating as usual.
Thanks for always being enlightening.
P.S. I got the Google Podcasts app after you guys mentioned it. Unfortunately, there's no reviews, their "trending" stuff must just use plays rather than reviews. It's still better than the Google Music App since it can speed up playback and automatically play the next episode. Still very bare-bones player. I don't have any experience with other podcast players since Brainfood is the first and only podcast I've listened to. 😃
P.P.S Today in history name: Eventiversary. Not great from the spelling perspective, but event anniversaries is basically the topic of the show.