Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup - Dream Health

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Saturday 16 May 2015

Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup

Patent medicine is referred to `over the counter’ medicine which were not generally patented but trademarked and one of them was `Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup’. Druggists, Jeremiah Curtis and Benjamin A. Perkins, of Bangor, Maine, partnered to create this remedy in 1845.

 It is said that Mrs Charlotte N, Winslow, Curtis’ mother-in-law, developed the formula while she was a nurse taking care of infants. Mrs Winslow’s Soothing syrup became one of the most successful, famous or infamous medicine during that time and was called by some, the `Baby Killer’. It claimed that it was likely to soothe any human or animal and effectively quieted restless infants and little children.

Like several of the patent medicines at that time, the maker of the medicine claimed that it was a cure for teething pain together with other ailments experienced by infants. Its virtual advertisement seemed to be very attractive and often portrayed idyllic domestic pictures of mother and child. Due to the two main ingredients of morphine and alcohol in her soothing syrup, it relieved pain and diarrhoea. It is reported that in 1868 court summary, Curtis sold annually, over 1.5 million bottles of the remedy.

Ingredients Not Listed on Labels

All through 1800, the ingredients did not have to be listed on the labels resulting in the consumers being unaware of the contents of the remedies they had purchased. An infant’s accidental death from overdose under these conditions was not unusual. Several physicians as well as medical association criticized the advertising claims of manufacturers and brought to the notice that some of the drugs led to addiction.

When the protestors raised their voice against the use of alcohol and drugs in patent medicine, the environment was due for new laws regulating drug labelling. Medicine manufacturers formed a trade group, the Proprietary Association, in 1881, to fight the proposed regulation.

They also threatened to stop all of its advertisements in newspaper in North Dakota when it became the first state to pass a disclosure law which was applicable to patent medicines.

Product Ended in Widespread Drug Addiction

In 1911, Mrs Winslow was criticized by the American Medical Association though it continued to be sold as late as 1930. Mrs Winslow’s syrup besides soothing teeth pain also put the babies to sleep, at times permanently since the product contains 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce together with sodium carbonate, spirits, aqua ammonia and foeniculi.

The product created by Mrs Charlotte N. Winslow was first marketed in 1949 in Maine and became very famous all throughout the United States as well as the United Kingdom via cross marketing in recipe books, newspaper and calendars. Unfortunately, this famous product and other morphine laced products ended in widespread drug addiction among the children with numerous infants’ death, reported in the news, due to overdoses.

 It was during the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 that severe steps had to be taken in order to prevent the manufacture as well as the sale of harmful children’s narcotics like Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. It is also said that some wounded civil war soldiers while returning home from the war and who were often addicted to morphine, purchased this Soothing Syrup when morphine was not readily available.

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