WLM ID: aiki | Catalog Record
Procaine (the generic name for Novocain) is a local anesthetic. Local anesthetics are the medications used to numb small areas as well as large regions of the body. When injected into or near nerves, local anesthetics interrupt the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Procaine was first made in 1905 by Alfred Einhorn (1857-1917), a German born chemist. It was Einhorn who named the substance “Novocain.” Later that same year Heinrich Braun (1862-1934), a German surgeon with a strong interest in anesthesia, became the first to use procaine in patient care. When used with epinephrine (adrenaline), to prevent it from being absorbed from body tissues too rapidly, it was quite effective. Because procaine was non-addictive and generally safer than cocaine, it became a very popular local anesthetic. However, procaine could trigger severe allergic reactions and it was quickly replaced when Lidocaine was introduced in 1943.
The Novocain Kit pictured here was manufactured by the German company Farbwerke-Hoechst, and shipped to the United States in 1916 on the merchant submarine The Deutschland before the United States entered World War I. During the time of its Atlantic crossing, the Royal Navy had effectively formed a blockade to cut off German supply lines. The unarmed Deutschland was built to evade the blockade and exchange cargo with the United States. Carrying valuables such as dyes, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and gemstones to the U.S, it made only two merchant crossings, both in 1916. In the early part of 1917, The Deutschland was converted into a war vessel.