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Article
May 30, 1931

THE INDISPENSABLE USES OF NARCOTICS: CHEMISTRY OF BARBITAL AND ITS DERIVATIVES

Author Affiliations

Chemist and Director, Respectively, Chemical Laboratory, American Medical Association CHICAGO

JAMA. 1931;96(22):1869-1871. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.27220480004011
Abstract

The increased use of hypnotics undoubtedly has been due in large measure to the zeal with which pharmaceutic houses vie with one another in introducing new, though not dissimilar, proprietary synthetics having sedative properties. Today, barbital and its derivatives are by far the most widely used. Yet it was scarcely a century ago that the first synthetic substance to be used as an hypnotic was prepared, namely, chloral hydrate. Liebig discussed its chemistry in 1832,1 but it was not until 1869 that Liebreich2 reported extensively on its pharmacologic action. Since then there have been many contributions to hypnotics before the present-day popularization of the barbital class. It will serve to mention some of the common ones, such as paraldehyde, ethyl carbamate (urethane), acetophenone (introduced as hypnone and still used to a certain extent in Italy), a tertiary alcohol, dimethylethyl carbinol (known as amylene hydrate), sulphonmethane (sulphonal), and chlorbutanol

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