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October 24, 1936


JAMA. 1936;107(17):1381-1384. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.92770430004011

This is one of a series of articles written by eminent clinicians for the purpose of extending information concerning the official medicines. The twenty-four articles in this series have been planned and developed through the cooperation of the U. S. Pharmacopeial Committee of Revision andThe Journal of the American Medical Association.—Ed.

The poet's dream of a harmless sleeping potion achieved reality through a lucky accident coupled with scientific vision when Liebreich1 noted that animals went into an apparently normal sleep when given chloral hydrate and awoke without evident harm. Since that time, enormous industry and ingenuity have been expended to improve on this drug.2 In no field of pharmacology has the relationship between physiologic action and chemical constitution been more assiduously studied. And yet, in some experiments done in 1930, chloral still stood at the head of the list of efficient hypnotics.3 Most