The older the better

It’s now entering the final week of the RUM/AJP ‘Search for Australia’s Oldest Medicine’ and entries are continuing to arrive in our inbox.

Among the recent contenders is an unopened bottle of “Martin’s Apiol & Steel” pills for females, returned for RUM bin disposal at Blooms Chemist, Coogee, NSW

Pharmacist Maurice Mountain says the “label on the bottle reads: ‘Directions: One or two night & morning a few days before the period is due – or if passed, take for three or four days. Then discontinue and commence taking a few days before the next period. Ten to twenty drops of the special essence of pennyroyal may be taken each night at bedtime in a little warm gin and water during the time the pills are being taken’.”

Also, Jane Riley, owner of Friendlies Rockingham- Grange Drive, WA, has sent in the an image of this find from closer to home


She says: “I found this sitting on a shelf in my Mum’s shed – this was my Grandma’s ‘ Healing Ointment’ she swore by for coldsores.. (It smells a lot like a rancid nappy rash cream now!)

My mum said it could be from the 1940/50’s and was a special blend by a Mr Rosen who worked in West Perth/Subiaco.  Apparently to dry up the cold sore Grandma was advised to pat boracic acid  on top…”.

Pharmacists have the chance to WIN one (1) APP 2018 conference registration, worth $780, for the pharmacist / pharmacy assistant of their choice to attend.*    

There are 3 ways pharmacy can enter the AJP and RUM ‘Search for Australia’s Oldest Medicines’ competition and share the image of the oldest medicine they collect during the competition period:  

  • Upload the image to the AJP Facebook page;
  • Post the image to their own Facebook page, tagging @AustralianJournalofPharmacy; or
  • Email the image, along with your pharmacy name and contact details, to

Be sure to include the medicine’s expiry date in the image, and take care to conceal / protect any personal details on the medicine label. 

Most importantly, once you have uploaded / posted / emailed AJP an image of the oldest medicine collected, place it in the pharmacy’s RUM bin for safe disposal

Visit the ‘Search for Australia’s Oldest Medicines’ gallery on the AJP website during the competition period to see what ‘old gems’ have been collected. Expect some interesting (and hopefully not too dusty) finds!

The winning pharmacies, along with images of the oldest medicines collected, will be announced on the AJP website during the competition period. Pharmacies can enter as many times as they like during the competition period.

For more information about RUM, click here 

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NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.

1 Comment


    Apiol and steel, oil of pennyroyal, and QES (quinine, ergot and strychnine) tablets were core products associated with “attempting to procure an abortion” back in the day.

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