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July 20, 1979

Camphorated Oil

Author Affiliations

Jersey City, NJ

JAMA. 1979;242(3):240. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300030016010

To the Editor.—  Camphorated oil, the externally used, over-the-counter rubefacient and liniment, is an embarrassment to pharmacists, because they continue to stock and sell this questionably effective, toxic preparation, which has a history of being mistakenly ingested for castor oil, the laxative and cathartic.1-3 It is also an embarrassment to the Food and Drug Administration because it has not as yet curbed use of this camphorcontaining product by mandating that manufacturers use a child-proof safety cap in addition to restricting the container packaging to a size not exceeding 30 mL and adding poison warnings in red ink on the label.4Now Kopelman et al (241:727, 1979) have published another case of camphorated oil's being mistakenly ingested, where 90 mL was inadvertently swallowed from a 120-mL bottle. The patient assumed that castor oil was being used.When does all this stop? Camphorated oil should be removed entirely from the