Journal Mobile

MJ Eadie
Journal Issue: 
Volume 42: Issue 3: 2012



On 12 May 1857, Edward Sieveking read a paper on epilepsy to the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society in London. During the discussion that followed Sir Charles Locock, obstetrician to Queen Victoria, was reported to have commented that during the past 14 months he had used potassium bromide to successfully stop epileptic seizures in all but one of 14 or 15 women with ‘hysterical’ or catamenial epilepsy. This report of Locock’s comment has generally given him credit for introducing the first reasonably effective antiepileptic drug into medical practice. However examination of the original reports raises questions as to how soundly based the accounts of Locock’s comments were. Subsequently, others using the drug to treat epilepsy failed to obtain the degree of benefit that the reports of Locock’s comments would have led them to expect. The drug might not have come into more widespread use as a result, had not Samuel Wilks provided good, independent evidence for the drug’s antiepileptic efficacy in 1861.