Practolol (Eraldin), marketed by ICI during the early 1970s for the treatment of heart conditions, was "particularly notable for the thoroughness with which its toxicity was studied in animals, to the satisfaction of the regulatory authorities.”(1)Nevertheless, unforeseen side-effects began to emerge including serious skin, eye and abdominal problems. Some patients suffered dry eyes, conjunctivitis and corneal damage leading to blindness. There were also cases of stomach damage with obstruction of the intestine, a condition known as sclerosing peritonitis which led to 23 reported deaths.(2) Overall, ICI compensated more than 1000 victims.(3)
The “practolol syndrome” had not been predicted by animal experiments (4) and even after the drug was withdrawn in 1976, no one could replicate the harmful effects in laboratory animals.(1)
1) M.Weatherall, Nature, 1982, April 1, 387-390
2) G R.Venning, British Medical Journal, 1983, January 15, 199-202; January 22, 289-292.
3) A Question of Balance, Office of Health Economics, 1980.
4) F.H Gross & W.H.lnman (Eds.), Drug Monitoring (Academic Press, 1977).
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