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What happened to Mercurochrome?

Updated on June 1, 2012

If you grew up in the 60’s it was called “monkey’s blood”. At times the treatment was worse than the scrape because it B-U-R-N-E-D like a lit match!! Mom would dap it on and say, “Blow on it, honey”.

I always thought by blowing on it, you could make it worse with all the germs in your breath. So I would grit my teeth and just walk off the pain. Anyway it appears Mercurochrome had been grandfathered under a so-called GRAS list (generally recognized as safe) for many years along with many other pharmaceuticals and food additives. The FDA faced the task of finally regulating these items on the GRAS list. With so many products on the list and the fact that Mercurochrome antiseptic contained mercury, it was brought up for scrutiny along with all the other mercury laced products back in 1978.

Mercury back in the old days was in lots of things, even the oral thermometers Mom used to check for a fever. Mercury in large enough doses is poison and harms the brain, kidneys, and developing fetuses. I was eating “Charlie Tuna” in 1978 and the news was pointing out how tuna contain mercury and you should be careful with its consumption.

Back to Mercurochrome, even though there was no Mercurochrome epidemic due to mercury toxicity, “burden of proof” of safe and effective fell on the drug manufacturers. Well this had never been done before and no double blind efficacy studies comparing Mercurochrome to things like Bactine or placebo were on record. It was easier for the manufactures to pull out of the US market and continue to sell to the rest of the world. So the FDA took Mercurochrome off the GRAS list in 1982 and in 1998 classified the antiseptic as a “new drug” (with no patent protection). To bring it back to the US market would require the same approval process all new drugs face which is time consuming and expensive.

So it appears my children will never experience the Mercurochrome sting of past. Or will they?

Thanks to the internet AKA World Wide Web, I can venture past our borders and shop around looking for items from my past. My next quest will be Surety Powdered Hand Soap!!


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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      if it didn't hurt or taste bad, it wasn't good for you. :) Thank you for this


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