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The Museum

Morphine Tablets
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Morphine Sulphate Soluble Hypodermic Tablets

Morphine, fist isolated by Friedrich Serturner in 1804, was widley used throughout the American Civil War, World War One and World War Two as a major pain killer. The addictive properties of morphine were already well understood from the aftermath of the American Civil War, when soldiers in their thousands had been exposed to the drug to help manage their horrific injuries.

Purchased by the Museum of Drugs Paraphernalia and Related Antiquities, June 2012

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According to The Roses of No Man's Land, morphine was given sparingly and only in extreme cases in hospital, so men had to suffer through the painful cleaning and irrigation of wounds. However, brandy, champagne, and port were dispensed regularly to the sick and wounded.

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Right, opiate drug case circa 1930 of the type used for the safe storage of this museum exhibit.

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During World War Two, Squibb, a pharmaceutical company, developed a way for medics to administer on the front lines a controlled amount of morphine to wounded soldiers. What Squibb introduced was called a morphine syrette, which was like a miniature toothpaste tube that contained the morphine. Instead of unscrewing a top like you do on a toothpaste tube, it had a blind end that was sealed. A needle attached to the syrette was used by the medic to puncture the seal. The medic would come along, break the seal and inject the wounded soldier with the morphine syrette.

During World War Two, Medics were allowed to administer morphine to alleviate pain, although the injection could also be given at the Battalion, or Collecting Stations. If the drug was applied , the syrette was pinned to the casualties collar to prevent overdosing of unconscious patients. Usually the 1/2 grain injection from the toothpaste tube shaped syrette, combined with physical exhaustion, was sufficient to knock the patient out, with the casualty often waking up in the hospital.

The needle attached to the syrette was used by the medic to puncture the seal. The medic would come along, break the seal and inject the wounded soldier with the morphine syrette.

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