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Clear glass bottle containing an original sample of Bayer 205, Europe, 1915-1916

Bayer 205, now known as suramin, is effective against micro-organisms called trypanosomes, which are responsible for tropical diseases such as sleeping sickness. The drug was on the market from 1920. This original specimen was prepared by Dr Oskar Dressel, part of the research team at Frederich Bayer and Co., a German dye manufacturer who developed the drug. Developed in 1916, Bayer 205’s chemical composition was kept a se-cret from other drug manufacturers. The powdered drug is mixed with liquid and given to the patient by injection. The label on the container written by Dressel is dated “4 October 1916”. The dome was probably added later to display the sample.

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Glossary: bottle

Vessels having a neck and mouth considerably narrower than the body, used for packaging and containing liquid and dry preparations

Glossary: suramin

a nonmetallic drug that may be used in the treatment of sleeping sickness

Glossary: sleeping sickness

A serious disease that is common in much of tropical Africa, transmitted by tsetse flies. Symptoms include fever, headache, lethargy, confusion, tremors, and loss of weight.