Would it surprise you to know that Bayer sold heroin as an over-the-counter remedy for coughs in the early 1900s?
By 1898, Bayer pharmaceutical found that, by boiling morphine for several hours, they could create diacetylmorphine, which they then called Heroin. It was said to cure bronchitis, tuberculosis and other cough-related diseases and in 1906 it was approved by the American Medical Association for general use and to replace the cough cure of choice at the time, morphine.
Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing baby Syrup was another favourite that was marketed as the best way to sooth a crying baby. We now now that ‘sooth’ really meant ‘knock out’ due to the high levels of morphine in this wonder syrup.
How about a little cocaine for your toothache? After doctors discovered its pain-relieving (read: numbing) qualities, cocaine drops were manufactured to cure aching teeth. One Belgian company even promoted cocaine throat lozenges as “indispensable for singers, teachers and orators.” Dentists and surgeons also used cocaine as an anesthetic.
Take a look at these photos and thank your lucky stars for the changes in medical standards and advertising.