COAL Creek Community Park and Museum may be closed to visitors due to COVID-19 but that hasn’t stopped them sharing fascinating snippets of local history.
Posting on Facebook, the park notes that “medicine and our understanding of chemicals have come a long way over the past century and a half” while showing a tonic of iron and arsenic held in T.H. Buzza’s Chemist and Druggist.
Thomas H Buzza was Korumburra’s ‘pharmaceutical and manufacturing chemist’ in the 1890s and made his own medicines and mixtures on-site. His pharmacy was next door to Dr Strahan’s surgery on Mine Road, Korumburra, which is represented at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum.
In the 1880s, medication was not regulated for public’s safety in the same way as it is today, the park said.
“Dangerous chemicals such as opium, mercury, phosphorous, heroine, arsenic and morphine could be purchased across the counter by anyone. This caused many accidental deaths and by the turn of the 20th century, addiction had become a huge social problem.
“Many doctors wrote to newspapers warning the public about the dangers of buying and taking dangerous, toxic and harmful chemicals at home.”
In fact, these harmful substances were used as ingredients in commercial cough medicine which could be purchased from most general stores.
These could be especially dangerous to children, and doctors were urging parents not to use them on children. In 1917, Korumburra storekeeper A.R. Swanson advertised ‘Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy’ which boasted to contain “No Morphine or other sedative.”