Bex (compound analgesic)
Bex was a strong compound analgesic which was popular in Australia for much of the twentieth century. It came in the form of A.P.C. (aspirin–phenacetin–caffeine) tablets or powder, containing 42% aspirin, 42% phenacetin, plus caffeine.
Bex was a product of Beckers Pty Ltd. of Pym Street, Dudley Park, South Australia. It was advertised with the phrase, "Stressful Day? What you need is a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down". Bex powders were the housewife's drug of choice in the 1950s and 1960s until they were shown to be highly addictive and found by Dr. Kincaid-Smith to be responsible for causing kidney disease when taken in large doses. Bex has also been linked to kidney cancer.
Place in popular culture
A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down was a comedy revue that opened at Sydney's Phillip Street Theatre on 18 September 1965. It was the longest running show at the Theatre in 1966 and was performed over 250 times during its extended run. The cast included John Ewart, Gloria Dawn, Ruth Cracknell and Reg Livermore. The play was written by John McKellar.
The expression "A cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down" had gained currency through much of Australia in the post-World War II period when aspirin became readily available. McKellar's play reinforced the phrase "and the title quickly became a common Australian saying". It was often used in the pejorative and abbreviated form "go and take a Bex" to indicate to an over enthusiastic person that they should take a more relaxed attitude to the subject being discussed, or to soothe a frazzled housewife. As such, in Australia, it has currency in bar room discussions, particularly where one person became animated in expressing a point of view that was contrary to the general view point of the group. In September 2011 former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, told the media, "I just think it would be a good thing if everyone seriously had a cup of tea and a Bex and a long lie down, OK?" over reports of his possible challenge to his leader, the incumbent Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
- Vincent Chemical Co., manufacturers of Vincent's APC powders and tablets, a similar formulation
- Powerhouse Museum. "Packet of Bex Powders". Powerhouse Museum, Australia. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Australian experience of analgesia in the mid 20th century". South Australian Medical Heritage Society Inc. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
- Morrow, Claire (1 October 2009). "The dangers of self-medicating: mother's little helpers don't always have a desirable effect, warns Claire Morrow. (Feel Life: Health)". Investigate. Howling at the Moon Publishing Ltd. 9 (105): 76(2). ISSN 1832-2794.
Stressful Day? What you need is a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. So the advertising went, in the days of powders. When I worked in aged care it was not uncommon to come across an elderl ....
- Cancer Council NSW: Bex powder killed more than pain, news.com.au, 29 August, 2014
- "Prompt – Phillip Street Theatre" (PDF). National Library of Australia. February 2012. p. 7. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
Commencing 18 September. A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down. Starring: Gloria Dawn, John Ewart, Reginald Livermore, Brigid Lenihan, Kevan Johnston, Judith Roberts, Donald MacDonald, Barbara Wyndon. 7 programs.
- "Social Roundabout". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 29 September 1965. p. 11. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- "A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down". AusStage. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
There are six programmes for this production in the Wolanski file with no cast differences. The programmes contain brief biographies and photos of the cast. Programmes at the National Library of Australia indicate that this production ran well into 1966 and was performed over 250 times during its extended season.
- Newton, Gloria (8 March 1967). "Gloria Dawns Anew". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. p. 2. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Newton, Gloria (18 October 1967). "Three children, a husband, and a revue to rehearse". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. p. 12. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Musgrove, Nan (12 October 1966). "A Fun Show for all the Family". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. p. 19. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Morgan, Clare (15 September 2010). "Comedy Writer McKellar, 80, Dies". The Age. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Norington, Brad (23 September 2011). "Have a Bex and lie down, Kevin Rudd tells those who think he's going to challenge Julia Gillard". The Australian. Retrieved 21 November 2012.