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December 13, 1958


Author Affiliations

Washington, D. C.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington Medical Center.

JAMA. 1958;168(15):2008-2009. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.63000150003012a

Effective control of alcoholism by chemotherapy dates from 1943, when Asmussen and co-workers1 and Jacobsen and Martensen-Larsen2 first described the reaction of patients receiving disulfiram and alcohol. In 1951, Graham3 demonstrated that disulfiram interferes with the metabolism of alcohol by inhibiting it at the acetaldehyde stage. Physical symptoms of the alcohol-disulfiram reaction (flushing, headache, tachycardia, and dyspnea) are believed to be due to the accumulation of acetaldehyde, and these symptoms are sufficiently unpleasant to serve as deterrents to further drinking. The value of disulfiram has been generally recognized, but its application has been limited by certain unpleasant side-effects, the most common of which are gastrointestinal disturbance, impaired taste, unpleasant breath and perspiration odors, lassitude, drowsiness, and diminished sexual potency.

In 1953, Fergusen4 reported that citrated calcium carbimide (Temposil) in the presence of ingested alcohol produced an acetaldehyde reaction similar to that of disulfiram and alcohol. Either

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