British anti-Lewisite (dimercaprol): An amazing history

Joel Vilensky, Kent Redman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Emergency physicians are familiar with British anti-Lewisite (BAL) because it is a heavy metal-chelating agent that is recommended in some cases of metal poisoning, especially arsenic. Although there are more modern chelating agents, the fact that BAL is still recommended and stocked by hospital pharmacies more than 60 years after its initial synthesis is itself remarkable. During World War II, BAL minimized the risk to the Allied infantry of injury or death from Lewisite, a very potent arsenic-based chemical warfare agent. Once developed, BAL revolutionized the treatment of heavy metal poisonings, both accidental and iatrogenic (eg, toxicity from treatment of arthritis with gold salts). In 1951, BAL was used to treat Wilson's disease with striking success. Today, BAL might again become prominent should terrorists or governments use Lewisite against civilians or military forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-383
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

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Dimercaprol
History
Chelating Agents
Arsenic Poisoning
Chemical Warfare Agents
Hepatolenticular Degeneration
World War II
Pharmacies
Arsenic
Heavy Metals
Gold
Arthritis
isofenphos
Emergencies
Salts
Metals
Physicians
Wounds and Injuries
Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this

British anti-Lewisite (dimercaprol) : An amazing history. / Vilensky, Joel; Redman, Kent.

In: Annals of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 41, No. 3, 01.03.2003, p. 378-383.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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