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Argyrol is the trade name for an antiseptic that consists of compounded solutions of mild silver protein at varying strengths. Argyrol is synonymous with the chemical Mild Silver Protein (MSP). It is manufactured in the chemical industry to pharmaceutical grade only, using denatured pharmaceutical-grade protein for ophthalmic application and elemental silver, to produce the silver protein molecule. While employed with Mulford & Co. (which later became Merck & Co.), American physician Dr. Albert Coombs Barnes recruited German chemist Dr. Hermann Hille; together, they returned to the United States and left Mulford & Co. to launch Argyrol. Widely publicized for its value to resolve gonorrhea infections, prevent gonorrheal blindness and other pathogenic infections to the eyes of newborn infants[1], Argyrol was developed and commercialized by Barnes as a prevention technology for use on mucous membranes to resolve local infections in mucous-membrane-lined organs.


Argyrol was first introduced as a commercial medicine in 1901 by the Barnes and Hille Chemists company. It has remained a registered trademark since Barnes's USPTO registration was first issued in 1902. In April 1907, Barnes bought out Hille and organized the A.C. Barnes Company to continue the manufacture and global sales of Argyrol from three headquarters located in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. Argyrol was never patented because Barnes strategized perpetuation of Argyrol exclusivity through his trademark of Argyrol, as the colloidal silver protein for antiseptic use to mucous membranes.[2]

By World War II, Argyrol post-exposure male hygiene was mandatory in the U.S. and Allied Military VD Prevention Technology for sexual hygiene. With the advent of antibiotics, prevention was outdistanced by the promise of cure by simple injection. Thereafter, Argyrol Anti-Infective became infrequently prescribed because Argyrol's 10% Stabilized Solution was available as an over-the-counter pharmaceutical, while prescription permitted compounding pharmacists to provide designer solutions of mild silver protein. Niched in ophthalmics, Argyrol dominated topical antimicrobials for the first half of the 20th century. With the enormous profits from the sale of the drug for a wide range of conditions in human and veterinary medicine, Barnes accumulated a large collection of art, mainly French Impressionist works, which today form the holdings of the Barnes Foundation, an educational art institution established by his will. The paintings were valued in March 2010, at $25 billion.[3][4]

Argyrol was manufactured by A.C. Barnes Company until the firm was acquired by Zonite Products Corporation in 1929. Argyrol products were compounded by pharmacists at various concentrations and dispensed to the public in pharmacy-labelled bottles, but sold as well in A.C. Barnes Company packaging in solutions of various strengths. A succession of pharmaceutical entities acquired Argyrol over the decades, avidly protecting their right to use the trademark Argyrol as reflected in the public record at the USPTO. The trademark was guarded by Barnes to ensure the quality and protect the reputation of the drug that resulted in a particular protection under law in jurisprudence, to enable the Zonite Products Corporation rightfully to caution their Argyrol buyers to beware of purchasing imitations of Argyrol which contained substances illegally substituted by druggists for competitive compounds that resembled Argyrol.[5]

The silver protein molecule in Argyrol has been in use for over 100 years to date, ample in clinical data support of the benefits and versatility of the silver protein molecule in medicine without detriment of drug resistance. Although Argyrol is used as a synonym in chemical description also as silver vitellin and mild silver protein, Barnes insisted on differentiating Argyrol as not the same. A silver-gelatin colloid, made by the reaction of silver nitrate, sodium hydroxide, and gelatin, in which a complex colloidal aggregate is formed, Barnes could rightfully assert Argyrol differed in its chemical assay, for instance, as it was claimed to contain over 30% silver. When compounded in varying strengths, nevertheless Argyrol is silver protein identified as to its molecular construct. Argyrol is an over-the-counter internationally recognized anti-infective drug, regulatory-compliant immediate to manufacture and distribution in every jurisdiction for antiseptic use in medicine specifically due to global drug regulatory administrative adjudication initiated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States to mandate New Drug Applications for silver drugs. Argyrol is found continuously in commerce in medicine since the date of Argyrol inception by Barnes and Hille.[6]

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  1. ^ "The Ogre of Merion". Time magazine. June 27, 1960. Retrieved March 19, 2010. He and a brilliant young German student, Hermann Hille, worked out the formula for Argyrol, a mild silver protein solution for which doctors had many uses—to treat gonorrhea, including gonorrheal blindness, relieve severe nasal congestion.... In 1928, with superb timing, Barnes sold out Argyrol for an estimated $4,000,000.
  2. ^ Schack, William (1963) [copyright 1960, Sagamore Press]. Art and Argyrol (Revised ed.). New York City: A. S. Barnes and Company. pp. 48, 49, 54. The original company was a partnership of Dr Albert C. Barnes, a physician, and Dr. Herman Hille, a chemist, who developed the process of manufacturing it at the urging of Barnes.
  3. ^ "The Art of Stealing from the Rich and Dead". Vanity Fair. March 2, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Arthur Williams (December 1, 2000). "Alfred Barnes, Argyrol and Art". Pharmaceutical Journal. London and Chicago: Pharmaceutical Press. 265 No 7128 (December 23/30, 2000 Christmas miscellany): 933–934. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009.
  5. ^ Broad Street Gossip, Wall Street Journal, August 17, 1929, p. 2.
  6. ^ Schack, William (1963) [copyright 1960, Sagamore Press]. Art and Argyrol (Revised ed.). New York City: A. S. Barnes and Company. pp. 47–49. This description is based on information given to the author by Dr. Hermann Hille, the original chemist partner of Dr. Albert Barnes in the Barnes and Hille, Chemists company that first sold Argyrol in 1902 from a plant at 24 North 40th St., Philadelphia, PA

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