Somnifaine is the trade name for aprobarbitone, a barbiturate derivative, manufactured in Swizerland and distributed by Hoffman-la-Roche Chemical Works Ltd., 51 Bowers Rd., London. It was stocked in a mental hospital pharmacy in Victoria. Somnifaine has sedative, hypnotic and anticonvulsant properties. The drug was taken orally to induce a prolonged sleep (narcosis) in the treatment of insomnia, and was also used to sedate patients as a form of chemical restraint. The treatment was commonly called 'sleeping away one's troubles.'

Physical Description

Small (1cc) brown glass bottle with broad, round base and tapering to a thin neck with protruding rim with tiny pouring lip. Has rubber cork and metal clamp to hold it firm. Only a few crystals left in bottom after contents were decanted by Conservation at the request of curatorial staff in 1996. Original contents were an S4 or S8 scheduled pharmaceutical with the ingredient aprobarbitone. For display labelling err on the side of caution and assume S8.

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