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EDITIONS
Tranquillisers Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Timeline: 1950's
TIMELINE: 1950s

Barbiturates are the nation's sedative of choice. A large variety had been manufactured under many names since 1903.

About 2500 in all are the wonder drugs of the day helping people sleep, reduce seizures in epileptics and to prepare patients before surgery.

But they are found to be addictive and life threatening when used to excess. If a heavy user tries to quit "cold turkey" the effect can be lethal. Withdrawal symptoms include seizures.

The evidence against using barbituates causes alarm. Doctors and drug companies start to look elsewhere for alternatives.

Panorama: Special report on tranquillisers


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