Untoward penicillin reactions

Bull World Health Organ. 1958;19(3):427-501.


The literature on untoward reactions following the administration of penicillin is reviewed. These reactions, including a certain number of deaths which have been reported, are of particular interest to health administrations and to WHO in view of the large-scale programmes for controlling the treponematoses which are now under way-programmes affecting millions of people in many parts of the world.The most serious problems are anaphylactic sensitivity phenomena and superinfection or cross-infection with penicillin-resistant organisms, and the reactions involved range in intensity from the mildest to the fatal; the incidence of the latter is estimated at 0.1-0.3 per million injections. The authors point out that with increasing use of penicillin, more persons are likely to become sensitized and the number of reactions can therefore be expected to rise. The best prevention against such an increase is the restriction of the unnecessary use of penicillin.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Penicillins / adverse effects*


  • Penicillins