History of the discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine

Francisco López-Muñoz, Cecilio Alamo, Eduardo Cuenca, Winston W. Shen, Patrick Clervoy, Gabriel Rubio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

160 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. The historical process of discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine, one of the greatest advances of 20th century medicine and history of psychiatry, is analyzed. Methods. In this review, we have studied the original works of pioneers in the discovery and clinical use of chlorpromazine, as well as the contributions of prestigious researchers (historians, pharmacologists, psychiatrists, etc.) about this topic. Results. The discovery of phenothiazines, the first family of antipsychotic agents has its origin in the development of German dye industry, at the end of the 19th century (Graebe, Liebermann, Bernthsen). Up to 1940 they were employed as antiseptics, antihelminthics and antimalarials (Ehrlich, Schulemann, Gilman). Finally, in the context of research on antihistaminic substances in France after World War II (Bovet, Halpern, Ducrot) the chlorpromazine was synthesized at Rhône-Poulenc Laboratories (Charpentier, Courvoisier, Koetschet) in December 1950. Its introduction in anaesthesiology, in the antishock area (lytic cocktails) and "artificial hibernation" techniques, is reviewed (Laborit), and its further psychiatric clinical introduction in 1952, with initial discrepancies between the Parisian Val-de-Grâce (Laborit, Hamon, Paraire) and Sainte-Anne (Delay, Deniker) hospital groups. The first North-American publications on chlorpromazine took place in 1954 (Lehmann, Winkelman, Bower). The introduction of chlorpromazine in the USA (SKF) was more difficult due to their strong psychoanalytic tradition. The consolidation of the neuroleptic therapy took place in 1955, thanks to a series of scientific events, which confirmed the antipsychotic efficacy of the chlorpromazine. Conclusions. The discovery of the antipsychotic properties of chlorpromazine in the 1950s was a fundamental event for the practice of psychiatry and for the genesis of the so-called "psychopharmacological revolution."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-135
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

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Chlorpromazine
Antipsychotic Agents
Psychiatry
20th Century History
Phenothiazines
Hibernation
World War II
Local Anti-Infective Agents
Anesthesiology
Antimalarials
France
Publications
Industry
Coloring Agents
Research Personnel
Medicine
Research

Keywords

  • Antipsychotics
  • Chlorpromazine
  • History of psychiatry
  • Phenothiazines
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

History of the discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine. / López-Muñoz, Francisco; Alamo, Cecilio; Cuenca, Eduardo; Shen, Winston W.; Clervoy, Patrick; Rubio, Gabriel.

In: Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 17, No. 3, 07.2005, p. 113-135.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

López-Muñoz, F, Alamo, C, Cuenca, E, Shen, WW, Clervoy, P & Rubio, G 2005, 'History of the discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine', Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 113-135. https://doi.org/10.1080/10401230591002002
López-Muñoz, Francisco ; Alamo, Cecilio ; Cuenca, Eduardo ; Shen, Winston W. ; Clervoy, Patrick ; Rubio, Gabriel. / History of the discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine. In: Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 2005 ; Vol. 17, No. 3. pp. 113-135.
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abstract = "Background. The historical process of discovery and clinical introduction of chlorpromazine, one of the greatest advances of 20th century medicine and history of psychiatry, is analyzed. Methods. In this review, we have studied the original works of pioneers in the discovery and clinical use of chlorpromazine, as well as the contributions of prestigious researchers (historians, pharmacologists, psychiatrists, etc.) about this topic. Results. The discovery of phenothiazines, the first family of antipsychotic agents has its origin in the development of German dye industry, at the end of the 19th century (Graebe, Liebermann, Bernthsen). Up to 1940 they were employed as antiseptics, antihelminthics and antimalarials (Ehrlich, Schulemann, Gilman). Finally, in the context of research on antihistaminic substances in France after World War II (Bovet, Halpern, Ducrot) the chlorpromazine was synthesized at Rh{\^o}ne-Poulenc Laboratories (Charpentier, Courvoisier, Koetschet) in December 1950. Its introduction in anaesthesiology, in the antishock area (lytic cocktails) and {"}artificial hibernation{"} techniques, is reviewed (Laborit), and its further psychiatric clinical introduction in 1952, with initial discrepancies between the Parisian Val-de-Gr{\^a}ce (Laborit, Hamon, Paraire) and Sainte-Anne (Delay, Deniker) hospital groups. The first North-American publications on chlorpromazine took place in 1954 (Lehmann, Winkelman, Bower). The introduction of chlorpromazine in the USA (SKF) was more difficult due to their strong psychoanalytic tradition. The consolidation of the neuroleptic therapy took place in 1955, thanks to a series of scientific events, which confirmed the antipsychotic efficacy of the chlorpromazine. Conclusions. The discovery of the antipsychotic properties of chlorpromazine in the 1950s was a fundamental event for the practice of psychiatry and for the genesis of the so-called {"}psychopharmacological revolution.{"}",
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