WLM ID: akgk, akgj, akgl | Catalog Record
In 1942 two Swedish chemists, Nils Löfgren and Bengt Lundqvist, discovered the compound we know today as “lidocaine.” It was clinically introduced by Dr. Torsten Gordh (1907-2010), who was the first physician in Sweden to specialize in anesthesiology. His clinical research with this new local anesthetic indicated that it was more effective and resulted in longer-lasting anesthesia when compared with other local anesthetics available at the time. He found a number of other advantages, including a lower risk of adverse effects, rapid onset, and stability when diluted and stored with epinephrine.
Astra AB, a small Swedish pharmaceutical company, acquired the rights to lidocaine in 1943 and gave the compound the brand name Xylocaine. The U.S. patent was granted in 1948 and Astra’s Worcester, Massachusetts manufacturing facility became operational in 1951. By this time Xylocaine was in very high demand. The popularity of this local anesthetic catalyzed Astra AB’s growth into a major international pharmaceutical company.
Over the years a number of formulations and packaging solutions have become available for the many types of anesthesia in which lidocaine has been put to use. Pictured here is a rusted tin which once contained 50 disposable cartridges of a lidocaine solution for injection. For use, the cartridges were placed into specially-designed reusable syringes. Also pictured is a box for a single glass ampule of an injectable solution, and a multidose bottle of a topical solution.