The question of the authority of the British Pharmaceutical Codex has recently been raised in Birmingham. Eight samples sold as “formalin throat tablets” contained amounts of formaldehyde ranging from 4 to 21 mgm.; only three of them contained 9·7 mgm., the amount ordered by the Codex. Two manufacturing firms informed the vendors that the tablets were made according to “their own private formula.” “Soda mint tablets” differed in composition. Some contained ammonium bicarbonate, as is required by the Codex; in others it was absent. In 1920 the Birmingham Pharmaceutical Association advised its members to use the Codex formula for “Extra strong Seidlitz powders.”—It is reasonable to expect that a drug bought from different pharmacies should be of the same composition. When the synonym is contained in the British Pharmaceutical Codex, published by the authority of the Pharmaceutical Society, the drug should be of the prescribed strength, unless the difference is declared by label. The Codex compilers should realise the results arising from the fixing of a standard for a popular drug. Ammoniated quinine tablets have been found to be almost devoid of the ammonium bicarbonate ordered by the Codex. According to the official reports, during the last ten years, 5·5 per cent. of “medicated lozenges and tablets” have been condemned.—The position of proprietary medicines is made more definite in the Act of 1938. Such an article is genuine if “supplied in response to a demand for that medicine” (section 4). Action can only be taken by a manufacturer if a substitute be sold under the name of his article. The recent practice, however, of avoiding stamp duty by giving the composition of the medicine on the label, has enabled action to be taken under the Food and Drugs Act, if the composition does not agree with the label. Two Birmingham samples illustrate this. An eye lotion was stated on the label to contain definite quantities of borax, boric acid, sodium salicylate and zinc sulphate. It contained about half the stated quantities. A rubbing lotion claimed to contain 94·8 per cent. of industrial alcohol, but only 77 per cent. was found. False claims have been made for vitamin contents. A sample of “cod‐liver oil tablets” was practically free from vitamin A, yet claimed to be “250 times as rich in vitamins as the very best butter.” In each case the article was sold by the vendor as received. Pharmacists should realise the risk of an action for “false label” when the composition of the article does not agree with the label. Had the recent proposals in the Budget been carried, it is probable that labels would have ceased to state the composition of medicines. If such a statement be not given, it would be impossible to protect a purchaser by action under the Food and Drugs Act. An important addition in the new Act is that an advertisement, as well as a label, is evidence as to the composition of a medicine. This should have a salutary influence on advertisements claiming, for instance, definite amounts of vitamins in drugs.
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