This section is from the "A Handbook of Useful Drugs" book, by State Medical Examining and Licensing Boards.
Antimony and potassium tartrate is a double salt of antimony and potassium with the radical of tartaric acid.
Properties : It occurs as a white powder or as colorless transparent crystals, becoming white and opaque on exposure to the air. It is soluble in water, but practically insoluble in alcohol.
Incompatibilities: It is incompatible with alkalies and their carbonates, tannic acid and astringent preparations generally.
Action and Uses: Antimony and Potassium Tartrate, when applied to the skin, gives rise slowly to inflammatory changes, with pustules and ulceration, which is somewhat difficult to limit. The ointment formerly employed as a pustulant counterirritant is now rarely used.
Internally it produces local irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract, and thereby nausea and vomiting with marked prostration. If absorbed, symptoms very similar to those produced by poisonous doses of arsenic are observed.
The therapeutic uses of tartar emetic are almost entirely confined to the treatment of the first stage of acute laryngitis and bronchitis. It should be avoided in cases marked by depression. When it is given, the object should be to increase secretion and facilitate the expulsion of sputum. The administration of tartar emetic should not be carried beyond the production of slight nausea. For the production of vomiting other agents are preferable.
Dosage: As an expectorant small doses should be used, beginning with 0.001 gm. or 1/60 grain, which may be repeated hourly, taking care to avoid too great depression. The emetic dose is 0.03 gm. or ½ grain.