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Original free sample of Bayer 205, suramin powder, Germany, 1926

Bayer 205, now known as suramin, is effective against micro-organisms called trypanosomes, which are responsible for tropical diseases such as sleeping sickness. The drug was on the market from 1920. Developed in 1916 by a team at the German dye manufacturers Frederich Bayer and Co., Bayer 205’s chemical composition was kept a secret from other drug manufacturers. This bottle was given out free of charge for clinical tests of the first production batch.

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Glossary: bottle

Vessels having a neck and mouth considerably narrower than the body, used for packaging and containing liquid and dry preparations

Glossary: suramin

a nonmetallic drug that may be used in the treatment of sleeping sickness

Glossary: sleeping sickness

A serious disease that is common in much of tropical Africa, transmitted by tsetse flies. Symptoms include fever, headache, lethargy, confusion, tremors, and loss of weight.