The Dangers Of Self-dosing With Medication
( Originally Published 1936 )
We spoke yesterday of the possibility of danger of continued self-dosing with drugs. In most cases the family physician has prescribed a drug for a patient, thinking that it will be used for a few days, until the symptoms are relieved, but the patient continues to take it for an indefinite period, with disastrous results.
Within the past few years, medical literature has been filled with reports of poisoning from the use of atophan or cincophen. This drug was introduced for the use of gout and chronic rheumatism in 1908. It is undoubtedly effective, and many people with chronic pain in the joints have gotten into the habit of using tablets of cincophen daily in large doses. The result has been a number of cases of cincophen poisoning.
The drug, when taken over a long period of time, and even when taken in small doses by people who are sensitive, produces degeneration of the liver. Jaundice is a prominent symptom. Other symptoms are itching, hives, rapid pulse, and low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, etc. I have before me the report of 89 cases of poisoning of this kind reported since 1926.
A typical case is that of a young man, 26 years old, whose father noticed that the whites of his eyes were somewhat yellow. It was learned that the boy had been taking eight atophan tablets a day for the relief of rheumatism, which had followed an attack of tonsillitis three months before.
The condition is an extremely serious one. Most of the patients die. Inasmuch as several of the patients have taken only small amounts of the drug, one of them only 15 grains, it would seem to be the part of wisdom to refrain from the use of atophan or cincophen entirely until chemists have discovered whether it is possible to produce a compound which will have no poisonous element.