Mercury Used to Treat Syphilis Bacterium

German bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich developed the first anti-syphilis drug, arsphenamine (trade name Salvarsan), an arsenic compound in 1909. The original course of treatment was an oral administration of mercury proving fatal to the patient. Later, in 1943, American physician John Friend Mahoney found that a week-long course of penicillin was most effective.

      1909, 1943
      Paul Ehrlich

Additional Information:

  • Syphilis – Wikipedia
    The causative organism, Treponema pallidum, was first identified by Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffmann, in 1905. The first effective treatment for syphilis was Salvarsan, developed in 1910 by Paul Ehrlich. The effectiveness of treatment with penicillin was confirmed in trials in 1943.
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    Mercury had been used as a treatment for epidemic diseases since Guy de Chauliac, (personal … New discoveries of the syphilis organism and its treatment.
  • Syphilis and the use of mercury | Blog – Pharmaceutical Journal
    Sep 8, 2016 – Mercury pills were popular for treating syphilis from the 17th to 19th century. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium …
  • History of syphilis – Wikipedia
    Mercury continued to be used in syphilis treatment for centuries; an 1869 article by Thomas James Walker, M. D., discussed administering mercury by injection for this purpose. Guaiacum was a popular treatment in the sixteenth century and was strongly advocated by Ulrich Von Hutten and others.
  • The First Syphilis Cure Was the First ‘Magic Bullet’ | Smart News
    Aug 31, 2017 – “The next day, no live [syphilis bacteria] could be found on the animal’s … drinks laced with mercury so that infected husbands could treat their …

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