Article ID: CBB367985449

How amytal changed psychopharmacy: off-label uses of sodium amytal (1920–40) (2019)

unapi

In the early 1930s, American neurologist and psychiatrist William Bleckwenn used sodium amytal to render catatonic patients responsive, so that he could engage in talk therapy. Bleckwenn found a new, ‘off-label’ use for this anaesthetic and anxiolytic medication in psychiatry and, in doing so, allowed for important discoveries in the diagnosis and treatment of catatonia. Pharmacological textbooks reveal a ‘label’, while the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office reveals explorations ‘off label’ of barbiturates. The ‘off-label’ use of barbiturates facilitated talk therapy, heralding an important shift in psychopharmacy. Drugs previously only used as chemical restraints became a form of treatment for specific psychiatric diseases. The current strictures against off-label prescribing are overprescriptive and close off innovative new uses.

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Authors & Contributors
Dyck, Erika
Valacchi, Maria Luisa
Orsini, Davide
Vannozzi, Francesca
Spillane, Joseph F.
Shehata, Diane Mulvey
Journals
Pharmacy in History
History of Psychiatry
Atti e Memorie, Rivista di Storia della Farmacia
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Medical History
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Publishers
Johns Hopkins University Press
Yale University Press
University of Michigan Press
University of Massachusetts Press
The MIT Press
Harvard University Press
Concepts
Pharmacy
Narcotics and drugs
Psychotropic drugs
Psychiatry
Medicine
Psychopharmacology
People
Beddoes, Thomas
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
21st century
18th century
Places
United States
Italy
Germany
Denmark
Asia
East Germany
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