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Fifty years chlorpromazine: a historical perspective

Authors Thomas A Ban

Published 15 September 2007 Volume 2007:3(4) Pages 495—500


Thomas A Ban

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

Abstract: Chlorpromazine was synthesized in December 1951 in the laboratories of Rhône-Poiulenc, and became available on prescription in France in November 1952. Its effectiveness was reflected in the transformation of disturbed wards; its commercial success stimulated the development of other psychotropic drugs. Recognition of chemical mediation at the site of the synapse, followed by the introduction of the spectrophotofluorimeter first, and receptor assays subsequently, led to the demonstration that chlorpromazine blocks dopamine receptors. Treatment with chlorpromazine focused attention on the heterogeneity of schizophrenia in terms of responsiveness to treatment. By the mid-1980s there was sufficient evidence to believe that resolving this heterogeneity is a prerequisite for developing more effective treatments. Chlorpromazine was instrumental in the development of neuropsychopharmacology, a new discipline dedicated to the study of mental pathology with the employment of centrally acting drugs.

Keywords: chlorpromazine, history, neuropsychopharmacology, pharmacotherapy, psychiatry, schizophrenia.

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