THE TOXIC action of emetine hydrochloride on the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems has been well known for many years. In 1916 Levy and Rowntree1 demonstrated by means of the electrocardiograph that an overdose of emetine hydrochloride in rabbits caused death by ventricular fibrillation. More recently Boyd and Scherf2 observed intraventricular block, inversion of T waves and cardiac arrhythmias in experimental intoxication with emetine hydrochloride in cats.
In human beings the toxic effects of emetine hydrochloride on the neuromuscular system have been described more frequently than the cardiac manifestations. These consist principally in generalized muscular weakness, tremors and peripheral neuritis. Diarrhea, which may be bloody in severe conditions, vomiting and abdominal cramping pains are among the other commoner evidences of toxicity of emetine hydrochloride.
Although it has been well established that the long-continued administration of emetine hydrochloride in large doses in human beings will generally result in the development