International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

Alternatives To Animal Experiments Research Testing

10: Page 10

Quinidine is another heart drug originating purely from clinical investigation. Quinidine is closely related to quinine and both alkaloids come from the cinchona bark, a substance introduced from Peru in 1638 for the treatment of malaria and used by Jean-Baptiste de Senec in 1749 for palpitations. Heart specialist Vaughan Williams takes up the story:(23)

"Before the first world war Wenckebach was consulted by a patient in whom atrial fibrillation was diagnosed. Since there was no remedy for the disease, Wenckebach reassured his client that his condition was compatible with many more years of fruitful life and saw him on his way. The patient declined to be reassured, however, promised to return the following day, and vowed that his fibrillation would have stopped. He did, and it had. Wenckebach walked over to lock the door, and placing the key in his pocket, said 'You do not leave this room until you have told me how you did that.' It transpired that his client was a merchant whose business took him to parts of the world where malaria was endemic and he was accustomed to take quinine. He had noticed that his fibrillation was sometimes arrested after a large dose."

But quinine was not always successful and in 1918, four years after Wenckebach's report, Frey compared the effects of quinine, quinidine and cinchonine in patients with atrial fibrillation.(24) Quinidine proved by far the most successful and to this day remains an important treatment for cardiac arrhythmias.

The discovery of Antabuse, used as a form of aversion therapy for alcoholics, originated with the chance observation that the drug produces unpleasant symptoms after consumption of even a little alcohol. Researchers from the Danish pharmaceutical company Medicinalco had been carrying out experiments on themselves to test the drug as a possible treatment for parasites.


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