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October 30, 1937

DEATHS FOLLOWING ELIXIR OF SULFANILAMIDE-MASSENGILL-II

JAMA. 1937;109(18):1456. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780440046016

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Abstract

Nine deaths following the administration of Elixir of Sulfanilamide-Massengill were reported as The Journal went to press last week. By October 25 the number had risen to forty-six, with additional cases not yet fully confirmed. The investigative work under the auspices of the A. M. A. Chemical Laboratory will appear in The Journal next week. It appears that the use in this "elixir" of diethylene glycol—an unstandardized, nonofficial product, not recommended or recognized for internal use—was responsible for the deaths. Diethylene glycol has its proper place in industry; it is safely used in many processes; it is not to be taken in any considerable dosage internally. There is no evidence that its ordinary use in industry or as an ingredient in the manufacture of cigarets is harmful. The drug sulfanilamide (para-amino benzene sulfonamide) does not seem to be involved so far as the deaths are concerned.

The Journal is endeavoring

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