Meprobamate (Equanil-Wyeth; Miltown-Wallace) was synthesised in 1954 as a muscle relaxant1 and like so many compounds affecting mental state was introduced by chance into psychiatry a year later.2 As a result of its apparent effectiveness inferred from early uncritical trials, efficient advertising and a widely felt need,3 it became the first nonbarbiturate extensively used to allay anxiety without excessive sedation or suicidal risk. Later appraisal4 gave a more temperate view of its efficacy, but though it was followed by several other dicarbamate derivatives and has more recently been challenged by the benzodiazepines, chlordiazepoxide (Librium-Roche) diazepam (Valium-Roche) and nitrazepam (Mogadon-Roche), it is still widely used for the symptomatic relief of anxiety.
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