Dry Reagent Tests in the 1880s - Dr Pavy's Pellets and Dr Oliver's Papers

Larry J. Kricka, Jason Y. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: In the 1880s, concern over the inconvenience of hazardous chemical solutions used for bedside urinalysis sparked an interest in the development of dry reagents for a range of common urine tests. Content: This article examines the history of Dr Pavy's Pellets and Dr Oliver's Papers, 2 different dry reagent systems developed in the 1880s for bedside urine testing. It sets these developments in the context of the earlier dry chemistry work (e.g., indicator papers) and the subsequent work that led to modern day reagent tablets and dipstick devices. Summary: Tests based on dry reagents can be traced back to the 1st century, but active development, in the form of indicator papers, dates from the 1600s. In the 1880s, spurred by dissatisfaction with liquid-based bedside urine testing among clinicians, Dr Frederick William Pavy and Dr George Oliver developed dry reagent tests, based on pellets (Dr Pavy's Pellets) and chemically impregnated papers (Dr Oliver's Papers) for urine sugar and urine albumin. These reagents were commercialized by a number of companies and provided in convenient cases (Physician's Pocket Reagent Case). Eventually, these tests lost popularity and were replaced by the type of tablets and dipsticks developed by both Eli Lilly, and the Ames Division of Miles Laboratories (subsequently Bayer, and currently Siemens Healthineers) during the 1940s and 1950s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1031
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Laboratory Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Oliver's Papers
  • Pavy's Pellets
  • dipsticks
  • dry reagents
  • point-of-care
  • reagent tablets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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