Argyrol is the trade name for an antiseptic
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction...

 consisting of a compound of protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 and silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. It was developed and commercialized by American physician Dr. Albert Coombs Barnes to treat gonorrhea
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The usual symptoms in men are burning with urination and penile discharge. Women, on the other hand, are asymptomatic half the time or have vaginal discharge and pelvic pain...

, and as a preventative of gonorrheal blindness in newborn infants.


Argyrol was first sold in 1902 by the Barnes and Hille, Chemists company. In April, 1907 Barnes bought out Hille and organized the A.C Barnes Company to continue the manufacture and sales of Argyrol. Argyrol was registered as a trademark in June of that year. Argyrol was never patented.

Argyrol is infrequently prescribed today, but it dominated the topical ophthalmic antimicrobial market for the first half of the 20th century. With the enormous profits from the sale of the drug, Barnes accumulated a large collection of mainly French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Impressionist art 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.

Argyrol was manufactured by A.C. Barnes Company until that firm was acquired by Zonite Products Corporation
Zonite Products Corporation
Zonite Products Corporation was a New York City based company formed in 1922. Headquartered in the Chrysler Building, it became a leader in the medical preparations field starting in 1930. In February 1930, it purchased for $215,000 the New Brunswick manufacturing plant of Reichardt Cocoa &...

 in 1929. The product was not dispensed to the public in its original package. Druggists sold it in solutions of differing strengths. Zonite Products Corporation cautioned buyers to beware of purchasing imitations of Argyrol which contained substances illegally substituted by druggists. These compounds resembled Argyrol in color.

Although sometimes described, misleadingly, as silver vitellin, Argyrol is instead a silver-gelatin colloid, made by the reaction of silver nitrate
Silver nitrate
Silver nitrate is an inorganic compound with chemical formula . This compound is a versatile precursor to many other silver compounds, such as those used in photography. It is far less sensitive to light than the halides...

, sodium hydroxide, and gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

, in which a complex colloidal aggregate is formed. It was claimed to contain over 30% silver.

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