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Perrigo

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Approaching autumn.  I can smell it, especially at night.  Falling leaves.  Campbell’s Tomato Soup & Premium Saltine Crackers.  The garden, finally tamed.  But now?  Still a roiling cacophony of God’s goodness.  Yet among pleasures of Eve & Adam evil does exist.  In the form of a nasty rash starting on my fingers, spreading to neck and knee.

Winds of Darwin set forth upon my acreage a new weed, lively, unpretentious, with hidden secrets.  Insects quickly grasped its unpleasantness.  To me, weeks would pass before lesson was learnt.

First, home remedies.  Smeared honey had a cooling effect but clothes stuck to my skin.  Ice wrapped in a towel?  Fantastic!  But I’d tend to drip across work orders, blueprints and such.  Next the family doctor who made, even with my limited dermatological knowledge, a misdiagnosis.  Finally, a true professional, identified by her age and demeanor – past retirement and I work because I can still work.

Past diagnoses tossed aside, adjacent issues dismissed, she prods me to discovery.  Yes, it must have been the garden.  The only constant in a variable schedule, weeded casually many times a month.  Doctor MacKay quickly determines the itching is driving me crazy.  Exhibit A:  Man goes to doctor without parental bidding.

A steroidal cream prescribed, purchased, and applied, my symptoms are on the wane.  The cream?  Manufactured in the Bronx by a multi-national corporation, Perrigo (not the flooring company).  A most interesting company with its roots in simple dry and wet goods capitalism.

In 1887 Luther Perrigo, the proprietor of a general store and apple-drying business, had the idea to package and distribute patented medicines and household items for country stores. Located in Allegan, Michigan, the L. Perrigo Company enjoyed steady growth and, by the early 1920s, Perrigo was exceeding the needs of its rural store customers throughout the Midwest.

Along the way, the company began leveraging the “private label” concept as a way to enhance customer loyalty. For no additional cost, Perrigo offered to imprint the individual store’s name on the labels of epsom salts, sweet oil, bay rum and dozens of other wet and dry goods stocked in general stores.  Perrigo History