Diacetylmorphine Diamorphine Heroin Diacetylmorphinx

Heroin bottle 1-12 grain dose

Heroin, (Diacetylmorphine, Diamorphine), was used in the USA up until the 1920's when it fell from favor. It was included in the IX U.S. Pharmacopeia but removed from the X U.S. Pharmacopeia which was published in 1925.

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) chemical structure

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine, Diamorphine)
Because of a Federal law forbidding its importation or manufacture in the United States, this alkaloid was dropped from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. The hydrochloride is a colorless, odorless, crystalline powder with a bitter taste; it melts between 229° and 233° C. and dissolves in about two parts of water or eleven parts of alcohol, its solution being slightly acid to litmus. The Br. prescribes a test for the limit of morphine, as well as tests for limit of moisture, and of ash.

Uses.—In its general physiological action diamorphine acts much like morphine except that, according to Ott, it is depressant to the spinal cord. It is, however, about twice as powerful in its depressant action upon the respiratory center. For this reason it is inferior to mor-phine as an analgesic, but it is often of much value in persons with an idiosyncrasy against morphine. Its most important use in medicine is as a sedative to the respiratory center.

The Technical Committee of the League of Nations made an elaborate investigation con-cerning the importance of diamorphine as a remedial agent. (See /. A. M. A., 1931, 97, 273.) This report concludes that the analgesic dose of heroin is about one-half that of morphine and that it is more effective than either morphine or codeine for the relief of cough and that, be-cause of its smaller dose, it is less likely to give rise to constipation. On the other hand, the euphoria which it produces is much more pro-nounced and, therefore, the drug is much more dangerous from the standpoint of addiction than is morphine; in view of the properties of some of the newer derivatives of morphine which are being synthesized, the Committee was of the opinion that heroin did not have sufficient advantages in comparison to its dangers to justify its retention in our materia medica.

The symptoms and treatment of acute poisoning are in general similar to those of morphine poisoning. In some cases there is also a semi-delirious condition somewhat resembling that seen in scopolamine poisoning.

Dose, one-sixteenth to one-sixth of a grain (0.004-0.01 Gm.).

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) pharmacy bottle from Europe


(The following has been taken from the January 1934 edition of American Druggist)

The foregoing recipe calls for this elixir. The recipe given in both the fourth and fifth editions of the National
Formulary follows:
Terpin Hydrate ................... 17.5 Gm.
Alcohol ........................... 425.0 Cc.
Tincture of Sweet Orange Peel. .... 20.0 Cc.
Spirit of Bitter Almond. ............ 5.0 Cc.
Glycerin .......................... 400.0 Cc.
Syrup ............................ 100.0 Cc.
Distilled Water, to make............ 1000.0 Cc.

Dissolve the terpin hydrate in the alcohol and add the other ingredients in the order given above.


"Indiana” has on hand a considerable stock of 1/4 grain heroin hydrochloride tablets which the narcotic authorities have recently given him permission to make into elixir of terpin hydrate and heroin. He wishes us to give him a recipe for making this elixir. We respond by furnishing the recipe of the fourth edition of the National Formulary.

Heroin ........................... 0.27 Gm.
Elixir of Terpin Hydrate........ 1000.00 Cc.

Dissolve the heroin in the elixir.

This is not exactly what our friend desires since he specifies apothecary measures and calls for elixir contain¬ing 1/4 grain of heroin to the fluid ounce. Simple calculation shows that our friend should use one of his tablets to each 2 ounces of aromatic elixir or 8 tablets to the pint. As tablets are usually made with fillers and excipients, we suspect the heroin solution in the elixir will not be entirely clear and will require filtration.
In closing, a warning should be issued that heroin is practically taboo in this country.