The Mercurochrome history began in 1919 as a new disinfectant that leaves a red trail showing what areas were treated. Merbromin, discovered as a dye in 1884 by Prussian researcher Emil Fischer, was the active ingredient. In 1918, American doctor, Hugh Young , found that merbromin was also a good antiseptic.
1889: German chemist Emil Fischer discovers the dye merbromin .
1918: American physician Hugh H. Young finds the antiseptic properties of merbromin.
1919: The pharmaceutical company Hynson, Wetscott and Dunning Inc. (HWD) begins marketing merbromin under the trade name Mercurochrome.
1920s: Mercurochrome becomes a popular antiseptic for treating cuts, scrapes, and other minor wounds.
1930s: Mercurochrome starts treating gonorrhea and syphilis as an internal medicine .
1940s: Mercurochrome plays a significant role in the US military during World War II.
Timeline after Mercury Concerns
1950s: Mercury-containing antiseptics, including Mercurochrome, raise safety concerns.
1960s: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begins to regulate the use of mercury-containing antiseptics.
1970s: Mercurochrome sales begin to decline as more effective and safer antiseptics become available.
1998: HWD discontinues production of Mercurochrome.
Mercurochrome remained popular for many years, but sold less and less in the 1970s as more effective and safer antiseptics became available. The FDA has also restricted the use of mercury-containing antiseptics, including Mercurochrome, due to concerns about their potential toxicity.
Here’s who have owned the brand name Mercurochrome over the years:
Hynson, Wetscott and Dunning Inc. (HWD) (1919-1984)
Schering-Plough Corporation (1984-1998)
Urgo Group (2009-present)
Today, Mercurochrome has ceased being used in the United States.
Mercurochrome no longer treats patients internally due to the potential toxicity of mercury. In the early 1900s, Mercurochrome treated a variety of internal conditions, including gonorrhea, syphilis, and dysentery. However, science learned that mercury could build up in the body and cause serious health problems, such as kidney damage, neurological problems, and even death.
In 1971, the FDA banned the use of Mercurochrome for internal use. Mercurochrome only remains available in some jurisdictions as an external antiseptic.
Here are some of the potential health problems connected to mercury poisoning:
Developmental problems in children
Damage to the immune system
- Year Started: 1919
- Year Ended: 1998
- Origin Of Name: Descriptive
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Hynson, Wetscott and Dunning Inc. (HWD)
- Owner While In Use: Schering-Plough Corporation
- Owner Successor: Urgo Group
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Neosporin
- Naics Code: 325412
- Location Headquarters: Baltimore, Maryland USA