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Bacta could be administered through disposable bacta patches, through direct injection, consumption (via bactade), through the application of a salve or out of a Bio-Bacta tank, or by submersion in a standard bacta tank. When bacta immersion was used, the patient would either be clothed in white shorts or a white gown depending on the person's gender. The method of administration depended on the severity of the wounds. It was imperative that bacta be applied in a solution of clear synthetic fluid which mimicked the body's own vital fluids.
Bacta tanks came in two varieties: large tanks for installation in medical facilities, and portable collapsible tanks for emergency. Field tanks required patients to lie on their backs or stomachs while the bacta was run out and in again through filters. The taste and smell of bacta, described as 'sickly-sweet', stayed in the mouth and nasal cavity for weeks after immersion in a tank. The patch left a somewhat weaker-smelling residue.
Bacta was invented by the Vratix on the planet Thyferra in antiquity, with the galaxy at large learning of its properties around 4100 BBY. The Vratix were willing to share the technology, but the substance could only be made on their homeworld where the needed resources were abundant. Struggles on Thyferra were often caused by disputes over control of bacta, often between the two main producers of bacta, the Zaltin Corporation and the Xucphra Corporation, or over the bacta the planet produced. Before its obsolescence, kolto was used along with bacta for medical treatments. Bacta later outsold kolto and eventually replaced it altogether. After the reorganization of the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars, the new Galactic Empire only allowed bacta to be produced on Thyferra, which was then stockpiled on Bespin.
More than 6 months after the Battle of Yavin, the Empire's Moff Kohl Seerdon led an attack against Rebel Alliance's bacta supplies on Thyferra. The attack was thwarted by Rogue Squadron, and Seerdon was killed.
At some point, Emperor Palpatine had the chemical sequence for bacta stored at his stronghold on Wayland with the possible intention being the development of a weapon designed to neutralize the properties of the compound. However, his scientists never developed a weapon and the sequence remained stored on Wayland. When the Yuuzhan Vong War gripped the galaxy, the Yuuzhan Vong conquered the planet Wayland where Shapers managed to analyze the bacta formula whereupon they created a virus that targeted the alazhi plant on a genetic level. This was in order to create a bio-weapon designed to kill anyone who was treated by bacta. However, their plans were thwarted by Klin-Fa Gi along with Uldir Lochett as well as his crew.
During the Swarm War, the Killiks staged a coup against the Thyferran government, which cut off the Galactic Alliance's supply of bacta during the Battle of Tenupe, thus crippling the medical abilities of the Alliance.