[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Citations 0
JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 5, 2003


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(9):1174. doi:10.1001/jama.289.9.1174-a

Within the last few years much has been published in regard to certain special arsenical compounds and their therapeutic value. These compounds, cacodylates, were found to be practically non-toxic in large doses, and it was claimed that they produce many of the therapeutic results of the basal element. Some recent investigators, however, have thrown discredit on the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs, claiming that they are practically inert in the system. They have, nevertheless, been found to produce certain symptoms, not those of ordinary arsenical preparations, which are of disadvantage. More recently, to obviate these latter disadvantages, still another organic compound of arsenic, disodic methyl arsenate, has been introduced and given the name of arrhenal, and has formed the subject of a number of clinical contributions. At a meeting of the Edinburgh Medico-Chirurgical Society, January 21, the president, Sir Thomas R. Frasier, reviewed the subject, calling attention to the fact that the efficacy of arrhenal had been combated, more especially its efficacy in malarial affections. He reported cases in his own practice where it had been given as a substitute for the ordinary arsenical preparations, but without the results that might have been expected were its effects those of arsenic itself. He also made examinations in order to determine why these failures occurred, as to the chemical conditions, using tests of extreme delicacy and found no evidence that arsenic was retained in the body after the administration of the drug. As in the case of the cacodylates, according to later reports, it passes unaltered. The general results of Frasier's observation were that arrhenal was practically an inert substance, that it can not produce either the pharmacologic action or the toxic effects of the arsenic ion and that, therefore, it is incapable of exerting remedial or therapeutic effects of the commonly used compounds of this substance. It seems now probable that both the cacodylates and this more recent substitute will pass into disuse unless some special properties not those of arsenic are absolutely determined. The enthusiasm with which these were at first received appears to have been unwarranted by fuller experience and may be taken as another instance of ill-judged medical faith in a remedy which is often one of the misfortunes of the profession.

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview