Is paradoxical pharmacology a strategy worth pursuing?

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2001 Jun;22(6):273-6. doi: 10.1016/s0165-6147(00)01711-9.


The first rule of medicine is, 'do no harm'. Perhaps accepting this precept has produced a logic for disease treatment where our primary purpose is limited to only assisting or helping to correct a malfunctioning system. Can we use drugs that, according to traditional views, would be considered to increase stress on the system in the short term, to actually treat and cure disease in the long term? Is it possible to exacerbate disease for a longer-term gain? Although there are several examples of where this strategy has appeared to work, a systematic testing of the hypothesis has not occurred and, for the majority of diseases, this hypothesis has never been tested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Pharmacology, Clinical / methods*


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists