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Ban's Psychopharmacology

Thomas A. Ban: Psychopharmacology. The Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore 1969. (485 pages).

INFORMATION ON CONTENTS: “Psychopharmacology” is divided into three parts. In Part One, “General Psychopharmacology,” the development of  a psychotropic drug from “synthesis” to “clinical applications” are described in six chapters: (1) “general principles,” (2) “animal pharmacology,” (3) “human pharmacology,” (4) “clinical pharmacology,” (5) “clinical investigations” and (6) “recent progress,” i.e., progress in the methodology of drug evaluation in these different areas of research from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. In Part Two, “Systematic Psychopharmacology,” the information collected in Part One, on structurally and pharmacologically different groups of psychotropic drugs in different stages of their development are reviewed in 12 chapters from which one covers drugs with behavioural effects without and with psychotropic action; ten deal with different groups of psychotropic drugs used in the 1950s and ’60s, such as the “barbiturates,” “amphetamines,” “phenothiazines,” “Rauwolfias,” “butyrophenones,” “thioxanthenes,” “tricyclic antidepressants,” ”monoamine oxidase inhibitors,” “propanediols,” and “benzodiazepines”; and one, is dedicated to “psychotherapeutic” and “psychotopathic” drugs which do not fit any of the eight groups. In Part Three, “Applied Psychopharmacology” the clinical use of psychotropic drugs in psychiatry in the late 1960s with consideration of the information presented in Parts One and Two, is discussed in three chapters from which one deals with new “concepts” and “definitions” related to the new treatments, another with “general therapeutic principles” and the third, with treatment of different psychiatric disorders. The Volume includes a Vademecum Psychopharmacorum with the chemical names, therapeutic uses and reported adverse effects of psychotropic drugs available at the time, and is supplemented with an Index.

AUTHOR’S STATEMENT: “Psychopharmacology” was based on my over ten years of experience in clinical investigations with psychotropic drugs at the time (1969) as the Co-Principal Investigator of Dr. Heinz E.Lehmann on a grant from the US Public Health Service to support an Early Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit at the Verdun Protestant (now Douglas) Hospital, a psychiatric inpatient facility in the outskirts of Montreal. (See,“Lehmann and Ban’s ECDEU Progress Report, 1961-1963,” in the “Archives” of this Website).

With the steadily accumulating preclinical and clinical information on psychotropic drugs I became increasingly aware of the heterogeneity of the information provided in pre-clinical brochures and of the inconsistency in the language used in describing drug-induced changes in clinical reports. The problem was compounded by the lack of integration of information from preclinical and clinical research. My objective was to bring together and organize the available information on psychotropic drugs generated by researchers working in different disciplines and operating in different frames of references in a manner that would help to translate findings from one level of functioning to the next, e.g., from biochemical to neurophysiopgical, and from one setting to another, e.g., from laboratory to clinical.

The writing of the text was greatly facilitated by an invitation to conduct a workshop on “What preclinical information does the clinician expect to be given prior to conducting a clinical trial with a new drug” at the 1966 annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Abstract, ACNP Bulletin, Volume 4, 1966). I also benefitted from the request to write a series of reviews on the different groups of psychotropic drugs for Applied Therapeutics (Applied Therapeutics, Vol. 8, 1966: 145-75, 423-7, 530-5, 779-85; Vol. 9, 1967: 66-75, 366-71, 677-80). There was also my increasing involvement in teaching psychopharmacology to psychiatric residents in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. The material presented at the ACNP Workshop provided the basis of the first part of the book, “General Psychopharmacology”; the papers published in Applied Therapeutics for the second part, “Systematic Psychopharmacology”: and the “handouts” used in teaching, for the third part, “Applied Psychopharmacology.” In my concluding remarks I pointed out that pharmacotherapy with psychotropic drugs focused attention on the pharmacological (biological) heterogeneity within the traditional nosological categories of mental illness, in terms of therapeutic responsiveness to psychotropic drugs, and postulated that progress in pharmacotherapy in psychiatry will depend on how fast this heterogeneity is resolved. “Psychopharmacology” was published by Williams and Wilkins in 1969. It was the first comprehensive text in the field. It shared in 1970 the Clarke Institute Annual Research Award with Harvey Stancer’s contributions to the role of catecholamines in affective disorders.