In September 1983, the antidepressant zimelidine (Zelmid) was withdrawn worldwide following potentially serious side-effects including nerve damage, leading to loss of sensation or paralysis.(1) Some patients also suffered hypersensitivity reactions such as fever, headache, muscle or joint pains, and liver problems. The drug had been introduced only a year earlier but Britain's Committee on Safety of Medicines had received over 300 reports of adverse reactions, 60 of which were serious: there were 7 deaths.(2) Prolonged tests in rats and dogs had shown no evidence of toxicity at 5 times the human dose.(3)
1) B.Blackwell in Side Effects of Drugs Annual, vol.8, Eds. M.N.G.Dukes & J.Elis (Elsevier, 1984).
2) R.D.Mann, Modern Drug Use, an Inquiry on Historical Principles (MTP Press, 1984).
3) R C Heel et al, Drugs, 1982, vol 24, 169 206
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