SINCE the epoch-making discovery by Pasteur of the bacterial origin of infections the literature has been replete with chemical compounds recommended for their antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Perhaps on the basis of the old English proverb that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," each year this list of surface antiseptics is augmented by the introduction of a surprising number of new ones. As yet the all-purpose, perfect antiseptic has not been discovered; however, the perennial search and research continues.
In this cavalcade quest of a sovereign, all-powerful, favored, antibacterial agent the synthetic detergent compounds first introduced by Domagk1 are worthy of special mention. In 1935, shortly after Domagk ushered into the world the first of the sulfonamides—the now famous but seldom used prontosil—he published a report demonstrating that the cationic, quaternary ammonium compound, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, possessed excellent germicidal properties. His initial report
LEWISON EF. CETYL DIMETHYL ETHYL AMMONIUM BROMIDE CHLORIDE, A NEW QUATERNARY AMMONIUM AGENT IN SURFACE ANTISEPSIS. Arch Surg. 1950;60(5):865–878. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1950.01250010888005
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