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Author Topic: What have they done to Germolene?  (Read 81687 times)

Offline antonymous

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #30 on: 12 August, 2014, 06:07:01 PM »
The only active ingredient that is absent  in the new version is octafonium chloride  and I can find no reference to it being a health hazard, nor any of the other ingredients.
BTW: anything is  poisonous if you dont use it properly and ingest large quantities of it.

From NICE "Accidental or Deliberate Ingestion
The product would only be expected to be harmful if orally ingested in very large quantities. This is unlikely due to the unpleasant taste of the product. In such a case the primary concern would be the phenol intake which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and headache."
« Last Edit: 12 August, 2014, 06:18:37 PM by antonymous »
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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #31 on: 04 November, 2014, 04:12:59 PM »
hi everbody just to let you know I have 100 tubes of Germolene ointment (yes the pink one)
If you email me I can help you out
04/11/14

Offline Duffield1

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #32 on: 04 November, 2014, 04:28:12 PM »
Normally, I would not approve such a post, but I think this might be one for our members!  Please can you confirm that it is not only pink, but that it also smells germoleney?

Offline dididicer

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #33 on: 05 November, 2014, 09:41:26 PM »
Am sorry but can't find a little envelope under my username is there somthing I have it done correctly

Offline Duffield1

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #34 on: 06 November, 2014, 09:23:21 AM »
It is visible to members, but not to guests (so that we don't have lots of spam guests trying to send emails to all our members) - I can assure you that it is there!

If any members want to buy some, they can simply click on the little envelope below dididicer's name on the left hand side to send him an email.  Any non-members will need to register to access this - don't worry, it is free! :-)

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #35 on: 11 November, 2014, 08:00:59 AM »
I cannot find Germolene ointment - the pink one with the unique, comforting smell - ANYWHERE! I have been told it has been discontinued - why, I do not know.

My 89 year old mum remembers this from her childhood, as do I from mine - and I use it as the BEST anti-septic cream on the market.

Why has it disappeared? I am baffled. Such a shame. Really. :-[

Offline Duffield1

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #36 on: 11 November, 2014, 12:03:58 PM »
I think you can get some via dididicer above, but you'd have to become a member to be able to email him through the site's email system...

Offline crabfoot

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #37 on: 20 November, 2014, 03:15:42 PM »
I regret to say that production of the "old" Germolene ointment appears to have been discontinued, and it is no longer available. You can still get the cream.

To provide some coherent answers, I'm (mostly) replying to P Kasso -


As a dedicated Gemoleny since I was about 4 years old, I have been following this thread with waves of nostalgia and rampant deja vu. Nice to know there are legions of fellow Germolenies on I.A.

But I have a little question for you all...that famous Gemolene Pink colour...is it natural?

Is it added? Just a marketing gimmick? Or is it important? What is that Gemolene Pink caused by?

The ancient and historic wisdom - phenol forms an addition product with iron(III) ions which is an intense red colour.

If you put a white phenol ointment in a tin which is made of mild steel, traces of moisture in the ointment will interact with the tin and bring traces of iron into a form which will then slowly migrate through the ointment and interact with the phenol. Over time, the white ointment would become pink, leading to complaints from users.

To counteract such complaints, given that the colour change would have a miniscule effect on the efficacy of the ointment, the makers added a colour to mask the effect way back in the dark ages.

With modern tins, it would be easy to have reformulated "back to white" and produced a stable package, but customer preference and the costs of proving to the medicines authorities that the change made no difference to efficacy would dictate against making the change.  As an educated guess, the costs of reformulation would be about £2m.

You would have to be crazy to pay £2m to remove the colour, simply to have customers complaining that "it isn't the same as it was".   

To explain that high cost - some old but useful products, such as Germolene and Dettol, were allowed to enter the medicines licensing system without going through the stringent processes applied to new products today.  Because the manufacturers do not have data generated to fit the requirements of the licensing system, they would have to generate that data before they could make any changes. Many man-hours expended just to formally document that it does what we know it does.


PS and this is a very weird PS....I just found this following strange historical comment on a BBC chat forum at [SNIP] where, among many other riveting Germoleny snippets, someone called Loafboss wrote in on Thursday, 6th December 2012 and said that...

"I remember reading somewhere that the Germolene smell is down to the ingredient Phenol which was at one time used by the Nazis as an extermination drug injected into Concentration Camp inmates. I assume, however, that having been a regular Germolene user since childhood, the quantities involved in the ointment fall well within safety limits."

Has anybody heard of this remarkable claim before? Is it hogwash? Or is it a documented fact? Did the Nazi guards really inject Phenol into the prisoners? What precise effect would have injecting Phenol into concentration camp inmates have had?

How many buckets of Germolene would someone have to ladle on before it reached fatal levels?

I read something about this as a schoolboy.  There were a lot of books circulating in the 1960s about the nasty things that happened in the camps, which would be "borrowed" from Dad's bookshelf and returned that evening having been scrutinised by a dozen or so lads. Sorry, can't quote a source.

There is an old preparation, Liquified Phenol, that was used as an intermediate by pharmacists  for extempore preparations like gargles and mouthwashes. It is about 80% phenol, the rest is water. I think this is what was injected. Phenol in the blood would be quite toxic. 


Regarding the smell of Germolene - some of the odour is due to the phenol, but mostly it is due to methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen).

In the blurb I have read about Germolene the local anaesthetic effect is attributed to the phenol, but in my own experience I have found that gluconates also have a numbing effect as well.
Wintergreen was a common ingredient in old preparations, and has some local anaesthetic properties, I imagine that it was originally added as an antiseptic with anaesthetic properties. 

Chlorhexidine digluconate was added at some point, which is a much more useful antiseptic than wintergreen.

Thus the wintergreen is no longer listed as an active ingredient but is still included in the formulation because people would complain if the product didn't smell the same, and it would cost a lot of money (as noted above) to remove it from the formula.

And another PS Another poster on the same site writes that Laphroig Whisky smells like Germolene because of the amount of peat in the water...now I don't know about this although I must admit that Laphroig does smell like Germolene. I don't know about you but I still I prefer my whisky to smell like whisky.

Laphroaig whisky's distinctive phenolic character is due to a traditional process of burning the interior of the barrels in which it is matured. I believe that peat is the fuel used in the burning.  If the flavour was in the water, I think the water supply would have been condemned many years ago.

« Last Edit: 20 November, 2014, 03:35:29 PM by crabfoot »

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #38 on: 21 November, 2014, 02:10:13 PM »
Crabfoot! What can I say? After a 'mere' 6 months of sitting here at my laptop with bated breath I have to vote your post  is one of the best, most complete and interesting answers I have ever had the pleasure of receiving...and second, a big welcome to you to IntelligentAnswers!

You have answered everything I'd been wondering about...I look forward to seeing the name Crabfoot popping up again and, if the quality of this your first answer is anything to go, you'll soon be a great addition to I.A. Welcome, indeed.
"I live in hope"

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #39 on: 23 November, 2014, 11:08:07 AM »
why not join with me and email Bayer protesting at there insipid replacement of germolene ointment with the useless gel/cream.

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #40 on: 24 November, 2014, 03:10:29 PM »
why not join with me and email Bayer protesting at there insipid replacement of germolene ointment with the useless gel/cream.

I'll do that...I'll run my comments through Google Translate first (if Google Translate accepts strong language!)
"I live in hope"

Offline crabfoot

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #41 on: 25 November, 2014, 08:33:22 PM »
I find the cream quite soothing. Perhaps Doug wants his cream pink, but I don't think he should call it useless, unless he's tried it with a microbiological challenge test. He'd probably be better off with Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People. But you can't get those either, nowadays.

I have determined that Germolene cream can kill germs, if you smear it on a hammer head and hit the germs hard enough. There. Science is true, don't be misled by facts.

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #42 on: 27 November, 2014, 10:12:14 AM »
It seems that you can get it from Boots with a Prescription , Online or Instore  !! , this attachment is from Boots web site oday 27.11.2014 , I don't know if you could get a prescription form your Docs for it

Offline antonymous

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #43 on: 27 November, 2014, 05:50:06 PM »
It is very mysterious but Germolene ointment (the original pink stuff) seems to be in a limbo land between prescription only  and non-prescription  availability.Some on-line chemists have one page indicating one state and another one the opposite ( Boots)  Lloyds the same, and Bayer have recently updated their instruction leaflet to include all sorts of warnings and yet state it is available off the shelf.(See att.)

To illustrate the confused situation read this;

 "A few weeks ago I went into a pharmacy in Glasgow to get a tube of Germolene ointment.  There was none on the shelf and the assistant looked puzzled and said that she'd have to get some from the stock.  The pharmacist then intervened to say that there were production problems with the ointment and it wasn't available at the moment.  Disaster.  Finding Germolene ointment became a quest over the next few days.  Life without it is unthinkable.  Various pharmacies just said they must be waiting for it to come in but one said that it was no longer in production because people didn't use ointment any more they preferred creams.  I don't!  Boots said it was still available on prescription.  So every time I saw a pharmacy I popped in and eventually found a few odd tubes left on shelves.  I'm ok for a year or three.

Then I was back on Lewis and in Stornoway the shelf of a local pharmacy was full of the ointment.  Had there been a problem?  Apparently not and on looking up the computer it's still available for ordering." http://galenote.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/this-is-not-advert.html
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Offline crabfoot

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Re: What have they done to Germolene?
« Reply #44 on: 28 November, 2014, 04:41:19 AM »
It seems that you can get it from Boots with a Prescription , Online or Instore  !! , this attachment is from Boots web site oday 27.11.2014 , I don't know if you could get a prescription form your Docs for it

The ointment is a category P product, which means that you can buy it over the counter in a pharmacy, where the pharmacist is able to supervise the sale. You would need a prescription to buy it online because the pharmacist would be unable to oversee the purchase.

Postscript: this is not true - see later posts. Apologies for jumping to a conclusion.
« Last Edit: 09 January, 2015, 04:16:08 AM by crabfoot »