Fowler's solution

Fowler's solution is a solution containing 1% potassium arsenite (KAsO2), and was once prescribed as a remedy or a tonic.[1] Thomas Fowler (1736–1801) of Stafford, England, proposed the solution in 1786 as a substitute for a patent medicine, "tasteless ague drop". From 1865, Fowler's solution was a leukemia treatment.[1][2]

From 1905, inorganic arsenicals like Fowler's solution saw diminished use as attention turned to organic arsenicals, starting with Atoxyl.[3]

As arsenical compounds are notably toxic and carcinogenic—with side effects such as cirrhosis of the liver, idiopathic portal hypertension, urinary bladder cancer, and skin cancers—Fowler's solution fell from use. (In 2001, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug of arsenic trioxide to treat acute promyelocytic leukaemia,[4] and interest in arsenic has returned.[5])


  1. ^ a b Jolliffe, D. M. (1993). "A history of the use of arsenicals in man". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 86 (5): 287–289. PMC 1294007. PMID 8505753.
  2. ^ Doyle, Derek (2009). "Notoriety to respectability: a short history of arsenic prior to its present day use in haematology". British Journal of Haematology. 145 (3): 309–317. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2009.07623.x.
  3. ^ Gibaud, Stéphane; Jaouen, Gérard (2010). Arsenic - based drugs: from Fowler's solution to modern anticancer chemotherapy. Topics in Organometallic Chemistry. Topics in Organometallic Chemistry. 32. pp. 1–20. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-13185-1_1. ISBN 978-3-642-13184-4.
  4. ^ Zhu, J.; Chen, Z.; Lallemand-Breitenbach, V.; de Thé, H. (2002). "How acute promyelocytic leukaemia revived arsenic". Nature Reviews Cancer. 2 (9): 705–714. doi:10.1038/nrc887. PMID 12209159.
  5. ^ Chen, S. J.; Zhou, G. B.; Zhang, X. W.; Mao, J. H.; de Thé, H.; Chen, Z. (2011). "From an old remedy to a magic bullet: Molecular mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of arsenic in fighting leukemia" (PDF). Blood. 117 (24): 6425–6437. doi:10.1182/blood-2010-11-283598. PMC 3123014. PMID 21422471.[permanent dead link]

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