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Three tubes of penicillin powder, two of International Standard and one of British Standard samples, 1945-1946

Two of these tubes of penicillin are labelled with the words “International Standard”. International Standards are set for all manufacturers so that the drug can be used with confidence. It also means that dosage can be regulated by using an International Unit as a yardstick. One International Unit of penicillin was equal to 0.0006 mg. The International Standard for penicillin, the first antibiotic, was set in 1944 at an Anglo-American meeting. One of the samples is an example of a British Standard of penicillin and is dated 1946.

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    Glossary: penicillin

    The first antibiotic drug to treat infections which is made from the mould penicillium. Its discovery is attributed to Alexander Fleming in 1928.

    Glossary: tube

    A cylindrical or oval profiled container used to contain a product with a semi-liquid, jelly, cream or paste-like consistency. Used for food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic or chemical products, for example, ointment, toothpaste, make-up or paint. Usually made of plastic or aluminium, threaded at one end and sealed with a cap and completely sealed at the other. The tube can be hermetically sealed and the contents for pharmaceutical or other preparations are near germ-free due to the high temperatures used during production.

    Glossary: antibiotic

    A substance that is used to treat infections.