Arsenic has been known in therapeutics since the Christian era. Its prominence was due to its dangerous lethal oxides, which were favorite vehicles in the sixteenth century for criminals in their nefarious practices.
The natural history of this drug is a most fascinating story. In the sixteenth century, arsenic formed a base for the numerous green dyes used extensively in the preparation of materials for the arts. Scheele's green, Schweinfurt's green and numerous other green dyes contained large quantities of arsenic and were readily obtainable. It was easy for any one with homicidal tendencies to obtain the dyes and thus have at his disposal large quantities of the arsenic. Paris green was a favorite with unfortunates who planned suicide.
In 1900, there was a widespread epidemic of arsenic poisoning in which thousands of people were affected. A commission1 was appointed, and after a thorough investigation it was found
ROSENWASSER H. NEURITIS OF THE AUDITORY NERVE OCCURRING DURING INTRAVENOUS ARSENIC MEDICATION: Report of a Case with Recovery. Arch Otolaryngol. 1932;15(2):284–288. doi:10.1001/archotol.1932.03570030301011
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