It’s the antiseptic solution we’ve all got somewhere in the back of our bathroom cupboards; rarely used, possibly past its use-by date, but instrumental to the prevention of infection within cuts and other wounds as they occur: Betadine. I bet you didn’t know how it came to earn its notoriety and therefore place in the back of your bathroom cupboard. Care to learn? Here’s what we know:
In its most humbling and introductory stages, the antiseptic solution was simply iodine, founded by Alexander Fleming in the first World War for the purpose of reducing the incidence of gas gangrene in the wounds of soldiers.
Well after the war (in 1955), povidone-iodine was introduced and quickly became the preferred iodine disinfectant world over.
The solution was trademarked as Betadine in 1969, and was launched in several markets around the world.
There are two kinds of antiseptic solutions other than povidone-iodine: isopropyl alcohol, which is known for having the best antibacterial activity (but has also been linked with fires in operating rooms because of its flammable nature), and chlorhexidine.
The differences between them are slight but apparent. Dettol is made from chloroxylenol, whereas Betadine (as we know), is made from povidone-iodine. Like the compounds that form them, the two brands of antiseptic have very similar functions. Both can be used to disinfect surfaces and wounds on the skin. Betadine, however, has come to have a reputation for itself as a solution with more clinical purposes. Isopropyl Alcohol is best known as rubbing alcohol, and is also used to disinfect wounds and for general cleaning.
Besides being an integral element of any surgery room, used by doctors and surgeons to clean surgical equipment and any surface that may be involved with the operation, the antiseptic was used to disinfect Apollo 11 after its first mission to the moon in 1969. The efforts were largely pre-emptive, as scientists did not have a great deal of insight as to the kinds of bacteria that might be lurking around beyond the planet's proverbial walls. With its trusted reputation within hospitals, the choice to use Betadine was an easy one.
Since then the brand has expanded its range to include a first aid cream, sore throat gargle, antiseptic ointment, topical solution, liquid spray, and cold sore ointment. More recently, a range of fem-care products has been launched under a subsidiary company, over which Betadine is a parent. At this stage, the Betafem range includes a foam and liquid wash and a Bacterial Vaginosis vaginal gel. This has not yet been launched internationally, available only within the UK at this stage.
The surgical scrub and alcohol skin prep are fixed features within most hospitals and surgery rooms worldwide. Not only is it used to disinfect surfaces and equipment, but the antiseptic solution is often used to treat wounds and the site on and around which surgery is being performed.
As the NASA-nominated antiseptic for Apollo 11, the product made history alongside the spacecraft’s involvement in the first successful mission to the moon that saw humans walk on its surface and return to earth safely. Being elected for such high-stakes purposes was enough to secure the brand as one of the leading iodine disinfectants and very quickly after, as a household item.
Just as space travel has evolved, so, too has the trusted brand of antiseptic. It currently includes the following in its range:
Sore Throat Lozenges
Concentrated Sore Throat Gargle
Ready To Use Sore Throat Gargle
Cold Sore Ointment
Antiseptic Liquid Spray
Antiseptic First Aid Cream
Antiseptic Topical Solution
Almost certainly in part because of its notoriety proceeding the Betadine-NASA affiliation, the company (The Purdue Frederick Company) now makes and distributes more than 100 products in 56 countries. Its production and research facilities extend to the United States, Canada, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom. Its marketing and distribution centers are located in Ireland, Austria and Switzerland.
Within Australia, Betadine is the flagship brand of Mundipharma.
Paman Singh, the Mundipharma CEO even stated, “we’re delighted with how far we’ve come with Betadine but progress does not stop there, we have big plans for the future. NASA is aiming at a manned mission to Mars; we’re aiming to substantially improve healthcare for the human race.”
So what does that look like?
The future of The Purdue Frederick Company was announced in 2019, starting with a $30 million expansion within its corporate headquarters, providing 100 to 125 new jobs to Norwalk.
Its next venture involves working on drugs to battle acute pain caused by cancer, as well as stopping the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
You can’t say the company doesn’t involve itself in important things!
Purdue Frederick also has its sights set on biotechnology (making drugs through biological methods), genetic engineering, and gene splicing.
The povidone iodine solution can even be used on pets, although there are some precautions that should be taken and considerations to keep in mind, before you do. It is important to note that Betadine might burn. It should be diluted before application on your pet’s skin. If you don’t, you will cause further damage to tissue around the wound. In the instance that it is too potent for your pet, even after dilution, there are alternatives that can be considered. Hydrogen peroxide is not as strong as Betadine, but will increase healing time.
Precautions with the Betadine products targeted at kids are minimal, but doctor-directive is advised before application of the antiseptic. This is especially important if the Betadine product is not aimed at children. Instructions on the back of the product should always be followed!
With such an impressive rap sheet, we’re surprised the brand hasn’t achieved world domination! Of any, it should come as no surprise if this is the company’s next course of action. Few companies can claim to have an affiliation as (moon) rock solid as Betadine’s with NASA. The strides it has taken since are continuing to make a difference in many facets of medical and scientific developments.