Bottle of sodium amytal pulvules

1960-1975 in Basingstoke
Eli Lilly and Company Limited

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Bottle of "Sodium amytal", by Eli Lilly and Co. Ltd., English, 1960-1975 Whole object, white background
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Glass bottle with plastic cap for 40 blue 'Sodium Amytal' (amobarbital) 'pulvules', with approximately 25 capsules remaining. 82 mm x 42 mm x 24 mm, .07kg. Made by Eli Lilly & Co., English, 1960-1970.

Sodium amytal is a strong sedative drug that is sometimes used to treat severe insomnia in patients who are already taking barbiturates – often for mental health problems.

It is a drug with a controversial history. It was used in the Second World War by some medics to send soldiers who were exhausted and traumatised by their experiences into a deep therapeutic sleep. However, it has also been described as a ‘truth serum’ and used during interrogations. Once a sedated, hypnotic state is induced, the subject is said to be more suggestible and less able to retain information they may wish to keep secret.


Materia Medica & Pharmacology
Object Number:
amobarbital, complete, glass, paper and plastic
overall (standing upright): 82 mm x 45 mm x 25 mm, .068 kg
controlled drug
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • vessel
  • drug
Wellcome Trust

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