By F. Albert, And Geoffrey Wilkinson, Cotton
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Hughes, Apothecary to the Inﬁrmary of the County of Staﬀord, England, tried to imitate this patent medicine that was known as ‘‘Taftelefs Ague and Fever Drops,’’ (Tasteless Ague and Fever Drops). Ague was endemic in many parts of England and the drops were immediately adopted into hospital practice and found to be eﬃcacious. Hughes discovered that arsenic was the active ingredient. ’’76 Fowler’s original recipe was written out in Latin as follows: ‘‘64 grains arsenic oxide, 64 grains purest vegetable alkali, distilled water half pound.
Dr. ): ‘‘I have just procured a small parcel of his medicine; at ﬁrst I thought it looked like corrosive sublimate but upon trial found myself mistaken. ’’57 Thus inspired, Dr. Potter became the Fowler of the New World. He cured cases of syphilis, ulcers and cancer (but not all types), children of worms, and he witnessed a cure of leprosy. He does report some deleterious properties of arsenic, include blackening of teeth. Some dogs he was studying lost their teeth. Potter began with smaller doses than Fowler, to diminish the side eﬀects, and increased the dose if all went well.
The problem was solved in 1858 by formulating the compound with an As–As bond, and cacodyl became tetramethyldiarsine (CH3)2As-As(CH3)2. Bunsen showed remarkable experimental skills and courage in working with these noxious compounds. He was unable to breathe the air in the laboratory, but since neither respirators nor fume hoods were available, he rigged up a face mask, ﬁtted with a breathing tube, that allowed him to access clean air outside the laboratory. He lost the use of his right eye, narrowly escaping death, when an experiment using cacodyl cyanide exploded unexpectedly.