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November 2, 1935


JAMA. 1935;105(18):1433-1434. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760440043015

Recent successes with methylene blue and sodium nitrite in the treatment of cyanide poisoning are striking.1 As a result, the treatment of poisoning in general is receiving more attention and undergoing creditable revision. These tendencies are resulting in more than the development of life-saving measures. They are leading to a fuller appreciation of fundamentals in pharmacologic reactions and physiologic processes. Sometimes the relationships are quite unsuspected.

Methylene blue and sodium nitrite are far apart chemically, physically and pharmacologically, so that a common factor in their antagonism of cyanide poisoning would hardly be suspected. Yet that is exactly what has been discovered, and the discovery testifies to the value of the experimental method in medical science. This common denominator is specific and definite. Its utilization should remove all guesswork from the treatment of cases of cyanide poisoning.

Historically, however, the discovery is one of those curious anomalies of reportorial service