WLM ID: akgy | Catalog Record
Pontocaine is the brand name used in the United States for the local anesthetic tetracaine. Tetracaine was first synthesized in Germany in 1928 by Otto Eisleb (1887-1948), a chemist working for IG Farben. Eisleb would later create the first synthetic opioid, meperidine (Demerol), in 1939. Among the first physicians to use tetracaine in the clinical setting was Dr. Helmut Schmidt (1895-1979), an early champion for the improvement of anesthesia care and the professionalization of anesthetists in Germany. In the United States, Dr. John S. Lundy (1894-1973) was one of the first physicians to use tetracaine in the clinical setting. His findings were published in 1931. Unlike many of the early local anesthetics that fell by the wayside, tetracaine continues to be used today. It is quick-acting and commonly used as a topical anesthetic.
Tetracaine first became available to the American market through the drug manufacturer Winthrop Chemical Company, in Rensselaer, NY (the manufacturer of the box of tetracaine pictured here). In 1923 Winthrop’s parent company, Sterling Products, began a complex relationship with IG Farben, and the subsidiary Bayer, that allowed the German company access to the U.S. market through Winthrop. The term “Niphanoid” printed on this box refers to the form in which the tetracaine was supplied: a fine, quickly dissolving powder.