[Skip to Navigation]
December 1963

Fatal Amphetamine Poisoning

Author Affiliations


Department of Medicine, Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(6):822-826. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860060060004

During recent years a widespread and increasing use of the amphetamine group of drugs has been of sufficient magnitude to warrant governmental concern.1 This group of drugs including amphetamine sulfate, dextro amphetamine sulfate, and methamphetamine hydrochloride has been used for a wide variety of reasons but mainly as anorectic agents, antidepressant drugs, and routine stimulants. Although they have been generously prescribed by the medical profession, an increasingly large supply is being made available to the public through nonprofessional sources.2 The general belief is that they are relatively innocuous drugs although numerous cases of amphetamine toxicity manifested by psychotic behavior have been described.3-7 Less frequently, reports have indicated that severe systemic responses 8,9 primarily of sympathetic hyperactivity occur independently or accompany the more serious central nervous system disturbances of coma and convulsions.9-11 However, their potentially fatal toxic effects have been largely ignored. An extensive review of the medical literature of the