Anticholeric preparations used by Vincent Pêche from the Imperial Pharmacy and Cyrus Hamlin from Robert College, during the 1865 cholera epidemic in Istanbul
Suzan Bozkurt, Nuran Yıldırım, Yeşim Işıl Ülman, Bülen Özaltay
The 1865 istanbul cholera epidemic was the extension of the fourth world pandemic which broke out in Singapour and spread towards Europe via steamships and railroads. It reached Suez Canal in May 1865, and then Ceddah and the Mediterranean ports. After a five days' journey from Egypt, the steamship Muhbir-i Sürür anchored in Istanbul on June 28th, 1865 and brought the disease to the Ottoman capital city.
Since the Istanbul hospitals couldn't cope with the high number of patients, detachable clinics were opened in various parts of the city. All pharmacies were asked to provide drugs in gratis to the cholera patients. The pharmacists would be paid by the state as soon as the epidemic extinguished. Mobile units were organised to provide the pharmacies with necessary drugs. Drugstores such as Pharmacie Madella (in Galata) and Pharmacie Delia Sudda (in Péra) functioned as health stations throughout the epidemic which lasted 40 days long.
The archival documents certify that a preparation by the pharmacist Vincent Pêche from the Imperial Pharmacy proved effective and successful during the 1865 epidemic. This preparation became known as anticholeric medicine, anticholeric liquid, tincture de Pêche, Eliksir de Pêche or mixture anticholérique de M.Pêche.
Cyrus Hamlin, a member of the Robert College's teaching staff, together with his colleagues George Washburn and Albert. Long, also prescribed two different preparations during the edipemic. These were called Dr.Hamlin's anticholeric drugs and were used to cure the patients living in Bebek and Rumelihisarı. One of them was composed of laudanum, spirit of/ camphor, tincture of rhubarb; the latter was a mixture of laudanum, tincture of capsicum, tincture of ginger and cardamon.