PDA

View Full Version : Pharmaceutical Diversion prevention



NoahBriggs
02-01-2007, 09:12 PM
Astoria lab diversion prevention procedures

Joseph Bill was the director of the Astoria Laboratories in Long Island, NY during part of the Civil War. According to Medicines For the Union Army By George Smith, Bill “. . . developed a procedure of invoices and receipts, which, together with his elaborate devices for inspection, made an involved procedure. . .”

A lot of opium comes to the Depot. The store keeper notifies the inspector [an Army hospital steward assigned to the lab to supervise as the onsite representative] of the fact and together they proceed to inspect and weigh it. If bad it is at once returned with the proper report. If apparently good it is weighed. The inspector gives the store-keeer a certificate that he has weighed and inspected this lot of opium noting the weight found. The inspector selects a sample from each case and then secures the opium in the cases in a safe place. He assays each sample of the opium and rejects all not containing seven percent of Morphia. He now adds to the certificate given to the store-keeper a statement of the quality of the opium. If the opinion expressed is favorable, I order the storekeeper to receive the opium and it is transferred to his care. He files the inspector’s certificate and enters the amount of the opium in a book (having a Credit and Dr. side) under the heading of “Gum Opium” and on the Dr. side of the book. When necessary he turns over the needed quantity of opium by weight to the miller (entering the quantity in the Credit side of the book) who receipts for the same. This person dries, powders and bolts the quantity issued to him, and when he this is done he notifies the inspector & hands him an invoice of the amount of powder obtained. If the operation has been properly conducted the inspector certifies the fact on the invoice and the powdered opium and the invoice are turned over to the store keeper. The invoice is filed and the amount of the powdered opium received entered into the book under the heading “Pulv. Opii” with the amount. The store-keeper at the same time issues the necessary bottles, corks, etc. to the chief filler who files the receipt. The bottles are then wrapped in hay, covered with paper, tied with twine labeld on the outside of the package, and packed in boxes, each packer performing all these operations and recording his namein lead pencil on the inside of the box packed by him. On the outside of the box the name of the medicine, the date of the packing, and the source are stencilled. After nailing and strapping the boxes are are turned over to the store keeper who enters their number and contents in a shipping book and at once despaches them to their destination, notifying the clerk, however, that the proper invoices may accompany them. The whole arrangement is so perfect that if at any time a purveying officer should complain that his opium is poor or badly packed he has only to examine the box, ascertain the date and the name inside, and be definite in his complaint to enable me to trace any error, fraud, or carelessness to the origin whether it arise from bad powdering, or careless filling and wrapping . . .”

These checks and balances are very similar to the security procedures which have been set up by the Drug Enforcement Administration in an effort to help industry to be able to receive, distribute, track or manufacture controlled substances, as laid out by 21 CFR 1300 – end (http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/cfr/index.html).

Micah Trent
02-01-2007, 10:28 PM
Noah,
Just curious, seeing that the good opium was weighed, is there any sources that show what the average weight for weighed opium would been when it was inspected?

NoahBriggs
02-02-2007, 06:08 AM
Good question. I have no idea. I am going to read a pharmaceutical manual (how to run a pharmacy 101, so to speak) so I'll keep an eye out for it.

Also, I just printed off Beasley's Book of Prescriptions. I can look in there and see if anything pops out.

Judging from the paperwork involved, it seems as though the weight varied from batch to batch, hence having to weigh it, work on it, then weigh it agin.

hanktrent
02-02-2007, 09:43 AM
I took it to mean that the weighing was to make sure the same quantity as promised was actually delivered. If the paperwork said 2 lbs., you wanted to make sure there were actually 2 lbs. and not 1 lb. 15 oz.

If the opium was obviously not good, there was no point in weighing it, since the shipment would be rejected on that basis alone.

If that's the case, the weight would depend on the way it was usually delivered. The 1851 US Dispensatory has a long article on the importation of opium, and if it was still being done this way by the government in the 1860s, it looks like it was coming in from Turkey, the most common exporter, in lumps of 1/2 to 3 lbs. However, it's hard to say how many of these lumps would have been together in a shipment.

The dispensatory also mentions what would indicate bad opium on initial inspection.


Smyrna Opium. This is the variety which is, beyond all comparison, most abundant in our markets; and it is from this that the ordinary descriptions of opium are drawn up. It comes to us in masses of various size, usually from half a pound or somewhat less to a pound in weight, sometimes, though rarely, as much as two or even three pounds, originally, perhaps, of a globular form, but variously indented, and rendered quite irregular in shape, by the pressure to which they are subjected, while yet soft, in the cases which contain them. Sometimes they are even pressed out into flat cakes. As brought into market, the lumps are usually hard on the outside, but still soft within. They are covered externally with the remains of leaves, and with the reddish capsules of a species of Rumex, which have no doubt been applied in order to prevent the surfaces from adhering....

This variety of the drug is of very different qualities, the finest kinds yielding, according to Merck, as much as 13 per cent. of pure morphia, while from some very bad parcels he could not procure more than 3 or 4 per cent. In these inferior specimens the colour is darker, the smell is often musty, and there is very generally more or less mouldiness both upon the surface, and in the interior of the masses...

The dispensatory also lists several tests to tell the percentage of morphia.


The proportion of morphia which any particular specimen of opium will furnish, may be considered as the best test of its value, except that of actual trial upon the system. Good opium should yield ten or twelve per cent. of the impure morphia precipitated from the infusion by ammonia with alcohol, according to the process of the United States Pharmacopaeia.

That process is described, but they also report the Edinburgh College test, and a test by M. Guilliermond. The USP test (or process, rather) requires several days, so I have a feeling that's why the other tests are noted, since the goal would not be to actually separate the morphia for use, but merely to see how strong the opium was. The Guilliermond test sounds like it would require at least a day, since there's a 12-hour waiting period in the middle, and the Edinburgh test requires a 24-hour maceration. So the test was not a particularly quick process.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

KarinTimour
02-04-2007, 04:10 PM
What I found interesting was the part that starts: "....He files the inspector’s certificate and enters the amount of the opium in a book (having a Credit and Dr. side) under the heading of “Gum Opium” and on the Dr. side of the book. When necessary he turns over the needed quantity of opium by weight to the miller (entering the quantity in the Credit side of the book) who receipts for the same. This person dries, powders and bolts the quantity issued to him, and when he this is done he notifies the inspector & hands him an invoice of the amount of powder obtained. If the operation has been properly conducted the inspector certifies the fact on the invoice and the powdered opium and the invoice are turned over to the store keeper..."

So they were shipped gum opium in various sized lumps (I'm wondering if it would lose or gain weight with shipment (i.e. water or humidity leaking into it, or drier conditions causing it to lose weight?). Once they got the gum, and decided that it was at least the minimum standard, it was given to the "miller" to be turned into powder (now THERE'S an interesting 19th century occupation). I'm assuming that they had a standard of how much powdered opium you were supposed to get out of a given amount of gum opium that meets the minimum 7% standard?

One of the other posters, I think it was Hank, mentioned that the quality could vary and you might actually get 13% purity. Would they stabilize this with some sort of filler so that the dosage would be uniform? Or would doctors test each new batch to determine how much to use when dosing so as not to accidentally overdose someone?

Fascinating topic,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Warm. Durable. Documented.
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

NoahBriggs
02-04-2007, 04:42 PM
I suppose I could read Opium: A History and see if it loses or gains weight due to humidity or drieness. I think it an interesting comparison to contact one of the modern companies whom the DEA grants permission to import raw opium (usually listed as "NRMs" in the applications, for Narcotic Raw Materials). I wonder if I asked a company rep how the company receipts it that perhaps maybe they might shed light on the process.

It seems to me, though, that based on the these checks and balances procedure the labs knew they were importing raw substances with varying degrees of potency, and they were also trying to document that for all incoming NRMs they were attempting to regulate the potency level- not too powerful, but not too weak either.

NoahBriggs
02-12-2007, 01:16 PM
According to Edward Parrish in An Introduction to Practical Pharmacy, page 450, in preparation of Dover's Powder -

"It should be remembered, that the opium is to be dried before being weighed [emphasis added], otherwise the powder may be deficient in strength."

So it appears opium can and does gain weight when exposed to moisture, which might explain why the labs measure it out before and after reducing it to a powder.

TimKindred
02-12-2007, 02:30 PM
Noah,

Also, keep in mind that the opium itself, in it's shipped state from overseas, would be in a somewhat resinous mass. The original stuff I saw (well, it was newly-made in the 1970's from Turkey... long story :rolleyes: ... tell you sometime) was a dark, sticky mass, a sort of resinous ball that looked not unlike natural-licorice, but somewhat pliable and sticky to the toush. It was wrapped in a pale red paper, somewhat like tissue paper, and weighed maybe an ounce or two. In fact, sort of like a semi-hard caramel, because if you touched it, you could leave a fingerprint in the surface, but it didn't seem to exhude any oil or such, but did feel tacky. Smelled nasty too, like old tobbacco and dung.

Respects,

NoahBriggs
02-12-2007, 03:27 PM
Thus, if you got it in that raw, resinous form, you could form it into a ball and chew on it, hence "opium-eating", yes? There are several references to characters from the TV series Deadwood who were "paid" for their services with "a ball o' dope". Said dope arrived on a regular basis via Chinese couriers who arrived at Deadwood from Frisco.

I know, I know, TV and movies are not the best sources for research, especially if you are looking for a dose of THC*. It was still interesting to watch, though.










___________________________________
*The History Channel, you fool. What did you think I was referring to?