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February 3, 1951

THE TOXIC EFFECTS OF ANTI-HISTAMINIC DRUGS

Author Affiliations

Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Medical School.; Dr. Wyngaarden is presently located at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1951;145(5):277-282. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.02920230001001

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Abstract

During recent years we have witnessed the development of an increasing number of effective antihistaminic agents, whose role in the therapy of allergic disease has now become well established. Recently a great mass experiment has begun in the treatment of the common cold with these compounds, and striking claims have been made for the efficacy of their early administration. An avid public has been eagerly supplied by various manufacturers until at present the consumption of these agents is enormous. Reliable estimates are that the total sale of these drugs will reach $100,000,000 in 1950.1

Fortunately, the antihistaminic compounds have proved to be relatively nontoxic in the usual doses, though they do frequently give rise to bothersome side effects. There are, however, certain serious potentialities embodied in these agents, and a small number of deaths have occurred. It is our purpose in this report to call attention to the toxicity

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The cases reported herein have been collected by communication with manufacturers and distributors of various antihistaminic drugs and, in many instances, by communication with physicians acquainted with the patients involved. It is believed that this represents all of the known cases of fatal poisoning.
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