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April 5, 1965

New Test for Penicillin AllergyFluorometric Assay of Histamine Release

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1965;192(1):36-40. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080140042010

Therese days to recite the frequency and dangers of penicillin-induced allergic reactions. Suffice to say that penicillin has overtaken animal sera as the major cause of anaphylaxis in this country,1 while thousands are denied its antibacterial benefits because of previous adverse reactions.

There have been many and varied attempts to devise a reliable way of detecting the development of such allergy in the individual patient. None of these attempts has proved completely satisfactory so far. Skin and ophthalmic tests with penicillin are known to be not only inaccurate but dangerous on occasion; several cases of anaphylaxis and even one fatality have been reported in the literature.2 Hemagglutination titers too often seem merely to indicate previous penicillin administration, and bear little relation to previous or subsequent allergic reactions, though recently deWeck3 has obtained more promising results. Intradermal testing with penicilloyl-poly lysine4 has been a useful advance, although

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