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Fowler's Solution and the Evolution of the Use of Arsenic in Modern Medicine

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Abstract

While arsenic has been used medicinally and as a poison for thousands of years, Fowler's solution, an arsenic compound, has had a fascinating history in medicine during the past 200 years. The use of Fowler's solution was first described and published as a treatment for malaria and syphilis in the late 1700s. Many clinical applications for Fowler's solutions have been studied and utilized over the years, but toxicities have limited its utility. Even so, arsenic trioxide, chemically related to Fowler's solution, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating acute promyelocytic leukemia. The history of Fowler's solution, its applications and uses, and benefits and risks are discussed.

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... In the middle of the nineteenth century, As-based preparations were the first effective chemotherapy agents against syphilis, parasites, and leukemia (Au 2011). Since 1845, Fowler's solution, which contains 1% potassium arsenite (KAsO 2 ), has been used to treat leukemia, chronic bronchial asthma, malaria, and psoriasis (Ho and Lowenstein 2016). Until the late 1950s, its use continued in the US for the treatment of syphilis, malaria, and other diseases (Jolliffe 1993). ...
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... In the past, it was also traditionally used in classical medicine as a therapeutic remedy. 56,57 However, at the present time it is forbidden in many countries because of its toxicity, which can induce death in the appropriate amount. Despite this, its use is becoming common in some alternative and homeopathic remedies, which is a potential source for intoxication. ...
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Chapter
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