Station: [4] Historical Finished Medicinal Products

Aspirin, Novalgin, Eumed – these remedies in their colourful tins or cardboard boxes with the rounded lettering are still available in Germany today, though aspirin is the only one distributed internationally. The brand names have remained, but the composition of the preparations has changed over the decades. All the medicines you see in this display case are what are known as finished medicinal products.  

The end of the 19th century saw the first medicines being industrially produced – a development that picked up speed in the 20th century and now determines market conditions. Previously, pharmacies largely prepared their own medicines, with only a few products being purchased from other suppliers. 

21st century dispensing chemists shake their heads in disbelief when they look at the composition of these old remedies. The choice of active ingredients was very limited. Quite a few of the preparations that were prescribed and sold without hesitation back then contained opiates or barbiturates, in other words, medicinal substances that are addictive. They were even given to children – which would be unthinkable today!

In the display case on the left, we show items that appear to be proprietary specialities. The suggestion was that these medicines had been individually prepared for customers at the pharmacy. In fact, they were industrially produced and simply sold with branding that was specific to a particular pharmacy. Take the Dolormin tablets, for example – a painkiller that’s still in common use. The manufacturer labelled the boxes with the imprint of a specific pharmacy. Or the sleeping pill Marisomnin. "Mari" stands for Marktheidenfeld, "somnin" for somnus, sleep. In the town of Fulda, the same remedy might have been called "Fulisomnin". 

The drawers behind the counter contain medicines from past times, specifically the 1960s and ‘70s. You’re welcome to open them!

All depictions: © Trüpschuch