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Three tubes of 'Oblivon' capsules, England, 1953-1967

‘Oblivon’ was a sedative to calm anxiety and fear and was launched in 1953 by British Schering Ltd. Time, an American magazine, described ‘Oblivon’ as “taking the terror out of visits to the dentist”. The label advises adults to take two capsules about 15 minutes before an ordeal such as the dentist. The trade name for the drug, ‘Oblivon’, was probably a play on the word oblivion – a state of complete forgetfulness. Unfortunately, the drug did not relieve pain. One of these tubes has a single capsule remaining, so someone must have used it to get through an ‘ordeal’. In the United Kingdom, ‘Oblivon’ was only available on prescription and was completely withdrawn in 1967.

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Glossary: methylpentynol

sedative used to calm the nerves

Glossary: sedative

Drugs used for their calming effect, to reduce anxiety and tension. At high doses they cause sleep.

Glossary: bromides

A class of drugs used as sedatives (to cause sleep) in use from the 1850s until replaced in the 1950s and 1960s by other drugs.