November 30, 2017

Search for Australia’s oldest medicine reveals Australia’s past

The RUM project recently teamed up with the Australian Journal of Pharmacy to search for Australia’s oldest medicine and encourage pharmacy participation in the program. The four pharmacies around the country were responsible for collecting some of the oldest medicines, each being rewarded with one registration to the APP 2018 conference worth $780 each. The many medicines received over the duration of the search revealed the interesting and colourful past of pharmacy in Australia.

Some of the most unusual discoveries included medicines dating all the way back to 1879 and even some which had survived world wars. It is astonishing that these medicines were sitting in the home for so long!

And the winners are…


Winner #1- Hany Aita, Broken Hill Priceline Pharmacy, NSW

Hany received two bottles of sleeping capsules that dated back to 1964 and 1965 – that’s 52 years in the medicine cabinet!

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Winner #2- Pharmacist Roy Packer, Super Pharmacy Plus, Stafford QLD

The second winner, Roy Packer, was handed morphine, atropine and codeine in vial forms -containing tablets, a syringe and a needle.  The medicine was handed in by a World War 2 veteran revealing what may very well be war treasure!


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Winner #3-Pharmacist Steve Lewis, High Wycombe Pharmacy, WA

Steve was handed a bottle of Mother Siegel’s Curative Syrup that was used to treat indigestion or an upset stomach. The medicine had no expiry date but an advertisement was found in an old newspaper from 1879- that’s over 100 years in a home!

oldest medicines


Winner #4-Pharmacist Christian Rossi, Maddington Village Pharmacy, WA

The fourth winner, Christian Rossi, was handed three bottles of Clements Nerve & Brain Tonic that claimed to treat premature decay, loss of nerve power and poorness of blood. Yet again there was no expiry date, but an advertisement for the tonic was found in a newspaper from 1938.

oldest medicines 


Some other interesting entries included an unusual medicine called ‘the application’ that had an expiry date of 1955. It is not known what the purpose of the application was! The other was a bottle of Butisol tablets that was previously dispensed at Nick Logan Pharmacy in 1977. Talk about a blast from the past!

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The returning of all these medicines goes to show that thousands of Australians may still have unwanted or expired medicines at home. Do you have medicines you would like to dispose? Head to your local pharmacist to participate in the RUM initiative today!

The Return of Unwanted Medicines Project is a free service that offers a way to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines safely and conveniently at your local community pharmacy. Find out more about the service here.

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