Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

Medicine bottles and vials

This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ann Schempp 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #139626

    Ann Schempp
    Participant

    We have several old bottles of pills and vials of medicine such as Aminophyllin Solution, Pulvules of Histadyl and Ephedrine Hydrochloride and Theominal tablets, from the 1940s-1950s. Should we keep the contents? Should we only keep the containers? I was curious if anyone knew of a resource I could check on this.

  • #139634

    Elizabeth McDermott
    Participant

    Hi Ann,

    I am reaching out to our experts who specialize in scientific collections and will be back with you as soon as I have some advice!

    thanks,
    Liz

  • #139635

    Ann Schempp
    Participant

    Thank you!

  • #139640

    Evelyn
    Participant

    following this too!

  • #139642

    Elizabeth McDermott
    Participant

    Ann,

    A few quick questions:

    What are the original states for these pills and vials, and are they still in their original state? For instance, were the pills originally in crystalline form, but have now become more liquid or vice versa? Same goes for the vials of medicine.

    Thanks,
    Liz

  • #139643

    Ann Schempp
    Participant

    Just check everyone. All appear to be stable: liquids are still liquid with no signs of crystallization and all the pills are still solid. A few pills are a little powdery around the edges, like aspirin. No capsules are leaking.

  • #139656

    Elizabeth McDermott
    Participant

    Dear Ann,

    Anna Dhody of the Mutter Museum has graciously responded to our inquiry concerning how to store medicine vials with contents.

    Here is her recommendation:

    In terms of keeping the contents, that has to be a decision made by the Collections team based on their individual Collections Policy. In our case, we value the contents as well as the bottle/label so we do what we can to preserve the actual pharmaceutical. However, their institution may not place the value of the object on the contents, but rather, the bottle/label.

    If her museum is part of a larger institution/organization that has laboratory facilities, I would recommend they get in touch with someone there who can review the contents and make sure they are stable and safe for storage. If they are in a larger facility, they may have an OSHA rep to call upon. We do not have that sort of infrastructure here, but if we did I would utilize it. They may also need to think about liability, staff safety, and other issues and overall look at the cost/benefit of retaining the material.

    One last thing that is pertinent to their safe handling: “were any odors/vapors being given off?” If so, you may want to consider reaching out to your local Public Health organization, OSHA and/or your local Pharmaceutical Disposal organization. Also, the following Conserve-O-Gram might be helpful: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/02-10.pdf

    Please let us know if this helps and keep us posted on any developments!

    Thanks,
    Liz

  • #139657

    Ann Schempp
    Participant

    Thank you very much for your research! I am going to share this with our director to see what our next steps should be. 🙂

  • #139727

    Kathy Karkut
    Participant

    Our medical history museum has a large collection of old medicines and many still have their contents. We value both the container as well as the contents. Our policy is that if the closure is secure, keep the contents. If the contents are interesting but the closure is loose, seal it with hot glue. This is inert, flexes with the environmental changes and best of all it is easily removable without damaging the container. If the closure is missing / broken and there is loose powder, then the contents are cleaned. The best resource for collections care of medical / pharmaceutical collections: MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY, London **** Report: Historic Pharmacy Collections: Care and Safety Issues
    http://www.rpharms.com/museum-pdfs/health-and-safety.pdf

    Kathy Karkut
    Collections Manager
    Museum of Health Care at Kingston

  • #139728

    Ann Schempp
    Participant

    Thank you so very, very much! Very nice solution indeed. 🙂

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