Recent publicity1 given to sudden deaths which were believed to have resulted from the use of mercurial diuretics prompted us to review the entire subject of the acute toxicity of these drugs. In this issue of The Journal DeGraff and Lehman2 have reported the results of experiments on cats to determine the possible mechanisms involved. This report will deal with the various untoward reactions that have been observed in patients. Toxic manifestations other than those of purely local nature, e. g. at the site of injection, may be roughly divided into two major groups: (1) those not directly related to the diuretic but to the associated diuresis and (2) those directly related to the drug.
First we shall consider the toxic reactions not related to the drug. As early as 1891, Jendrăssick3 in giving mild mercurous chloride to patients with cardiac edema noted an increase in the
DeGRAFF AC, NADLER JE. A REVIEW OF THE TOXIC MANIFESTATIONS OF MERCURIAL DIURETICS IN MAN. JAMA. 1942;119(13):1006–1011. doi:10.1001/jama.1942.02830300018007