Tuesday 23 March 2021

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield - Dispensers of Strychnine - 11th July 1939

 This is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 11th July 1939 and relates to the sale of a "medicine" by a chemist in Crookes Sheffield

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield were a wholesale as well as a retail chemist and I was amazed that strychnine was dispensed and sold in such a fashion.

For those readers who are not familiar with properties of strychnine these are its effects

" it can fatal to humans and other animals and can occur by inhalation, swallowing or absorption through eyes or mouth. It produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction, making it quite noticeable and a common choice for assassinations and poison attacks. For this reason, strychnine poisoning is often portrayed in literature and film, such as the murder mysteries written by Agatha Christie

Ten to twenty minutes after exposure, the body's muscles begin to spasm, starting with the head and neck in the form of trismus and risus sardonicus. The spasms then spread to every muscle in the body, with nearly continuous convulsions, and get worse at the slightest stimulus. The convulsions progress, increasing in intensity and frequency until the backbone arches continually. Convulsions lead to lactic acidosis, hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. These are followed by postictal depression. Death comes from asphyxiation caused by paralysis of the neural pathways that control breathing, or by exhaustion from the convulsions. The subject usually dies within 2–3 hours after exposure."

From Wikipedia

The fact is that Mr Leaper was not prosecuted for selling the preparation but was prosecuted for not being present when the drug was sold over the counter. It was considered at the time a tonic but if taken to excess it "produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction"

Needless to say, strychnine is now longer on sale in Crookes!  


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