Medicine: Penicillin Safety

Dangerous penicillin reactions, in patients with a special sensitivity to the drug, can range from fever, itching and swollen joints to sudden death from anaphylactic shock, an extreme allergic reaction.* Previous tests for penicillin sensitivity have been too slow and cumbersome for everyday use, but a new test is now available that quickly screens out potentially fatal cases.

Working at a U.S. Army hospital in Augsburg, West Germany, Major Vernon M. Smith put one drop of standard penicillin solution inside the lower eyelid of his subjects, and another drop on a light scratch made...

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