Medicine: Sulfanilamide Appraised

In August 1936, Dr. Ralph Robertson Mellon of Pittsburgh* stood at the bedside of a patient stricken with deadly peritonitis. In desperation he fed her a German-made drug, never before used in the U. S. The patient rapidly recovered. Dr. Mellon then plunged into an intensive study of the action of this drug, a combination of benzene, a sulfur compound and naphthalene, called prontosil. He learned that: 1) one of its three ingredients, naphthalene, was medically worthless; 2) sulfanilamide, a cheaper U. S. product, composed of the other two ingredients, would do everything...

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