China Barbies: Early 1930’s Schering Veramon Pain Relief Advertisement

In 1851, Ernst Christian Friedrich Schering opened a pharmacy in Berlin and in 1871 it was formally converted to a manufacturing plant and incorporated as Schering AG. Schering's business in China has a history of nearly 120 years. It’s first subsidiary was established in 1922 in Shanghai but Schering's products were sold in China through distributors as early as 1885. After closure of the company in 1945, Schering re-entered China in 1992 and at present has three locations established. Since 2006 Schering is part of German Bayer AG. 

 

Veramon was a pain relief medicine consisting of a combination of barbitone and amidopyrine: a classic barbiturate.

 

Barbiturates were first used in medicine in the early 20th century as treatment for anxiety, insomnia or seizure disorders. They act as a central nervous system depressant and can produce a wide range of effects from mild sedation to death. With increasing occurrences of abuse, dependency and overdoses they were classified as controlled drugs in the late 1960’s and replaced by the just slightly less dangerous “Mother's Little Helpers”, benzodiazepines. Too late for many who fell victim to deadly barbiturate overdoses including celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Slang terms for barbiturates included barbs, barbies, wallbangers, downers and goofballs.

 

In Schering’s and the agencies defense though, the drug could ultimately fully deliver the claim advertised on the above poster: “Stop all pain” / “立止一切疼痛“.