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June 1, 1929


JAMA. 1929;92(22):1865-1866. doi:10.1001/jama.1929.02700480055015

Three children died recently in London from thallium compounds administered for ringworm of the scalp. This tragedy was caused by the druggist making a mistake in converting metric to apothecary's measure whereby the children received more than five times the quantity of thallium acetate ordered. In the report of these deaths the statement is made4 that prescription writing in America is almost universally in the metric system. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Probably in not more than 10 or 15 per cent of prescriptions written in the United States is the decimal system employed. Irrespective of this misconception of the lamentable nature of the deaths and of the forceful argument they furnish for general adoption of the metric system by physicians and druggists, the report has another somber significance: it is an additional indication of the growing importance of thallium compounds as a dangerous poison.

The first therapeutic

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