This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
B. P., not official. - C7H16S2O4=227.59. Synonym. - Diethylsulphondimethylmethane. (Ch3)2C(So2c2h5)2=227.59.
Mercaptan (Ethyl Hydrosulphide) is combined with Acetone to form Mercaptol, which by oxidation with Potassium Permanganate yields Sulphonal.
Dose, 15 to 40 gr.; 1.00 to 2.40 gm. in cachets or suspended in mucilage.
Sulphonal is an hypnotic. It does not depress the heart. The drug is given for the same class of cases as chloral, but as it is so insoluble, it is absorbed with difficulty and very slowly; hence it takes two or more hours to act, and its action may be prolonged into the next day. It produces its effect most rapidly if the fluid, in which it is suspended, is hot; but as they are so much more convenient it is usually given in cachets an hour and a half before bedtime. Sulphonal rarely leads to a habit or to any disagreeable after-effects. The symptoms of a sulphonal habit are general lethargy, mental, moral and muscular weakness, loss of nutrition, and dyspepsia. It has been known to produce persistent eruptions upon the skin and hsematopor-phyrin in the urine. Several fatal cases of poisoning by this drug have been reported from small doses continued for long periods. Severe general functional disturbances have followed its use. Enormous single doses produce, in addition to these symptoms, prolonged sleep, lasting many days, paralysis of sphincters, anuria, a fall of temperature, and, late in the case, depression of respiration.