June 3, 2010
Remember 693 tablets? - a cure for everything?
There was once a great tablet with the figure 693 on it. In the 1950's in Sibu our mothers used to buy them in bottles and kept them at home replenishing them whenever only a few were left. That was used as our "anti-biotics"(this term was not known then )- our fever cure - our blood clotting medication and so many other functions...
Why 693? A veteran told me that the scientist made 693 experiments to finally formulate this wonderful medicine.
"In the decade between 1935 and 1945, the discovery and diffusion of sulfonamides, commonly known as sulfa drugs, new medicines capable of controlling bacterial infections, launched a true therapeutic revolution. Predating antibiotics, these "first miracle drugs" to quote the title of John Lesch’s latest book (The First Miracle Drugs. How the Sulfa Drugs Transformed Medicine, OUP, 2007), met with huge successes in both civilian and military applications, thus stimulating a rapid expansion of pharmaceutical research and production, raising expectations of medicine in general and accelerating the appearance of new and powerful medicines created via research." ( Wikipedia)
Caution : Sulfapyridine is not prescribed for treatment in humans any more. However, it may be used to treat Linear IgA Disease. It is a good antibacterial drug, but its water solubility is very pH dependent. Thus there is a risk of crystallization within the bladder or urethra, which could lead to pain or blockage.
How many of us still remember how as children we used to crush the 693 tablets (available in government dispensaries and hospitals in large glass jars) and put them on our bleeding wounds. We used to get big wounds from cuts and mosquito bites. These wounds might even turn into boils if we did not clean them with salt water. Within two days the 693 would dry up our wounds and we could play in the wet muddy river banks again.
I can remember with twitching nerves the wounds that I had when I was young and naughty. The mosquito bites turned septic if we were not careful. So many mothers had to buy lots of 693 to dry up these wounds which have gone septic. Some of my neighbours in fact had wounds which were badly treated and they had deep scars for the rest of their lives. But in retrospection we have plenty of scar stories to tell. (Thanks to Tony Wright - Marjon....who gave me plenty of food for though and lots of stories to tell)
Furthermore several reference books tell us that 693 actually successfully treated Winston Churchill's bacterial pneumonia in 1942. In a subsequent radio broadcast he said "This admirable M&B 693 from which I did not suffer any inconvenience, was used at the earliest moment and, after a week's fever, the intruders were repulsed." In 1944 M&B693 also saved Nero, the Royal Circus lion, from pneumonia.[Glasgow Evening News January 1944.]
How many Foochows I wonder in the past were treated by 693 and lived a long life like Winston Churchill.
Most of my friends and people I know in Marudi and Sarikei also praised 693 and its impact on their lives. People were too poor to see doctors in those days. 693 was the only "everyday or ready to use medication" for almost everything including tooth ache a very common ailment then.