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November 20, 1937


JAMA. 1937;109(21):1727. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780470049016

Seldom has any catastrophe stirred the United States to the extent to which press and public have been aroused by the needless deaths resulting from the Elixir of Sulfanilamide-Massengill. The repercussions have been varied. Unfortunately, many believe that sulfanilamide was the toxic agent. All the work and confirmatory data reported thus far and transmitted to The Journal show that diethylene glycol was the causative agent. This does not mean that sulfanilamide is a harmless drug; it is potent and should be used only under the close supervision of the physician.

The number of deaths from the elixir that have been reported since the statement published November 6 has increased from sixty-one to seventy-three as of November 11. The increase in the number of reported deaths does not indicate that the patients died recently; it simply means that reports of additional deaths have been confirmed.

In the publicity, much confusion is