Pressurized Metered Dose Inhalers (Placebo)

IHPST · Stan Epstein Collection

Accession Number: 2019.ihpst.86.1-2


Two pressurized metered dose Inhalers (pMDI), one in its original box.

2019.ihpst.74.1: A white and red coloured cardboard box contains a white plastic inhaler with a blue cap. The inhaler has a white and red label on one surface that reads “Placebo”. A metal canister of pressurized gas protrudes from the top of the device.

2019.ihpst.74.2: A second device identical to the first, but missing the cardboard box and blue cap. The labels affixed to the plastic device and its propellant canister are peeling to a greater extent than on 2019.ihpst.74.1.

Primary Materials: Plastic, Cardboard, Metal


The cardboard box for 2019.ihpst.74.1 includes the following information:

Printed on the front surface: “Containing 200 metered inhalations of propellent only”
Stamped in black ink on one side: “Lot No 5C11OE”

Dimensions (cm):

Box: Height = 9.3, Width = 5, Length = 3 ; Artifact: Height = 9.3, Width = 4, Length = 3


The pressurized metered dose Inhaler (pMDI) delivers a calibrated dose of medicine into the respiratory tract. This item contains propellant only and is presumably for demonstration purposes.


Good: Both items are worn but intact. The labels on 2019.ihpst.74.2 are peeling slightly. The box and blue cap belonging to 2019.ihpst.74.2 are missing.


Manufactured in England for Allen & Hanburys LTD, Toronto, Canada.

Date of Manufacture: Mid-to-Late 20th century.


This item was acquired along with a collection of medical artefacts from the home of Dr. Stanley Epstein on February 19, 2019.

Additional Information and References:

Epstein, Stanley W. and Colleen S. Duncan “The use of MDI’s in clinical medicine.” In Metered Dose Inhalers: An International Workshop (October 17-19, 1983, Mont Ste. Marie, Qc). edited by S. W. Epstein. 59-62. Mississauga, OnL Astra Pharmaceuticals Canada, 1984.

Historical Notes:

In an informal interview carried out on February 19, 2019, Dr. Epstein referred to this artefact as “The classic…” “…that turned out to be so important”

The concept of the MDI has been credited to Dr. George Maison, President of Riker Laboratories, Inc. Dr. Maison’s nine-year-old the daughter had asthma, and sometimes dropped and broke her glass nebulizer, an instrument that was then commonly used to administer adrenergic bronchodilator. Around 1954-1955, she is said to have remarked: “why not make an inhaler like the hair sprays?”
In April of 1955, Dr. Maison, along with Mr. Irving Poresh invented an instrument that incorporated an existing patented metering valve. This was approved by the FDA in March of 1956. The Medihaler-EPI and Medihaler-ISO were subsequently into the medical marketplace.
MDI’s grew in popularity over the 1960s. In the late 1970s, the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was banned in the United States. This coincided with the development of power-based inhalers. Non-CFC propellants have since been developed and popularized. [Epstein and Duncan, 1984]

  • Donated to UTSIC