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March 9, 1912

Cocain not Decomposed by Heat

Author Affiliations

Suffern, N. Y.

JAMA. 1912;LVIII(10):721. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260030119027

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To the Editor:  —The statement is frequently made that cocain in solution is decomposed by heat, and therefore it is not feasible to sterilize such solutions by boiling.This is one of the errors that mysteriously creep into literature and are perpetuated by succeeding compilers, and in the comprehensive article on therapeutics of coca in The Journal, February 17, page 481, the error is given further sanction.It is well known to chemists that neutral solutions of cocain hydrochlorid are quite stable; cocain certainly cannot be decomposed to an appreciable extent during a brief exposure to 100 C. I have demonstrated this by boiling a 2 per cent. solution for five minutes and then extracting the cocain as alkaloid. This is probably about five times as long as solutions are usually boiled. Different experiments showed a loss ranging from 1 to 1.7 per cent, of the cocain employed, and this

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