Methoxyflurane (Penthrane)

WLMD ID: apog
Abbott Laboratories manufactured methoxyflurane, sold under the brand name Penthrane, from 1961 to 2001. A fluorinated ether, methoxyflurane was first synthesized in 1958 by Dow Chemical Company. It was one of several compounds investigated by anesthesiologists Joseph F. Artusio, Jr., M.D. (1917-2011) and Alan Van Poznak, M.D. (b. 1927). They published their research into the clinical use of methoxyflurane in 1960. A number of other positive reports quickly followed and it seemed that methoxyflurane was a perfect inhalation anesthetic: nonexplosive and nonflammable with fast induction and recovery times and few adverse effects. It has also been used for analgesia (pain relief), in such products as Abbott's Analgizer, a self-administration inhaler. Studies showing its potential kidney and liver toxicity caused methoxyflurane to fall out of favor in the United States by the late 1970s.

Catalog Record: Methoxyflurane (Penthrane) Methoxyflurane

Access Key: apog

Accession No.: 1991-09-13-1 C

Title: Penthrane / Abbott.

Corporate Author: Abbott Laboratories.

Title variation:   Alt Title

Title: Methoxyflurane.

Publisher: North Chicago, Illinois : Abbott Laboratories ; [between 1961 and 1991].

Physical Description: 1 bottle : glass, metal ; 11.5 x 5 dia. cm.

Subject: Methoxyflurane.

Subject: Anesthesia, Inhalation.

Subject: Pharmaceutical Preparations.

Note Type: General

Notes: The first year in the date range is based on the year of the product’s commercial introduction. Abbott publications dated from 1961 through 1967 show the product packaging to have been a 125-milliliter bottle completely sheathed in a blue-green plastic coating. This suggests a date of manufacture no earlier than 1967. But the label on the object calls the product “new”. The second year in the date range is based on the date that the object was donated to the WLM.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Abbott Company File. Archives. Located at: Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Abbott Laboratories. Penthrane (methoxyflurane, Abbott) : an inhalation anesthetic without explosion hazard. North Chicago, Illinois: Abbott Laboratories, 1961.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Abbott Laboratories. A Guide to the Administration of Penthrane Mexthoxyflurane. North Chicago: Abbott Laboratories, 1967.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Artusio JF, Van Poznak A, Hunt RE, Tiers FM, Alexander M. A clinical evaluation of methoxyflurane in man. Anesthesiology. September-October, 1960;21(5):512-517.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Mazze, RI, Trudell JR, Cousins MJ. Methoxyflurane metabolism and renal dysfunction: clinical correlation in man. Anesthesiology. 1971;35:247-252.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Mazze RI. Methoxyflurane revisited: tale of an anesthetic from cradle to grave. Anesthesiology. 2006;105(4):843-846.

Note Type: Citation

Notes: Van Poznak A. Methoxyflurane (Penthrane): seeking its niche. In: Dobkin AB, ed. Development of New Volatile Inhalation Anaesthetics. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1979:113-153.

Note Type: Physical Description

Notes: One bottle; Made of amber glass, with a metal twist cap painted white; A painted panel of the front of the bottle is printed in white on a blue-green background: “125 ml. No. 5864 [new line] Inhalation Anesthetic [new line] PENTHRANE [new line] METHOXYFLURANE [new line] Caution: Federal (U. S. A.) law [new line] prohibits dispensing without [new line] prescription. [new line] [Abbott logo]; A painted panel on the back of the bottle is printed in white on a blue-green background: “Contains: [new line] Methoxyflurane _ _ _ _ 125 ml. [new line] Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) 0.01% w/w [new line] 64-6039-2/F6 [new line] Abbott Laboratories [new line] North Chicago, Ill. 60064, U. S. A.”; A white adhesive label is affixed to the top of the back panel, which reads: “Expiration Date [new line] Mar. 1, 1980 [new line] Lot 50-381-DK”; Between the front and back panels, graduation marks are printed in blue-green (from top to bottom): “APPROX. ML. [new line] 100 [new line] 75 [new line] 50 [new line] 25”.

Note Type: Reproduction

Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch on November 14, 2016.

Note Type: Acquisition

Notes: Gift of Harry Wright Linde, PhD.

Note Type: Historical

Notes: From 1961 to 2001, methoxyflurane was made by Abbott Laboratories, and sold under the brand name, Penthrane. A fluorinated ether, methoxyflurane was first synthesized in 1958 by Dow Chemical Company. It was one of several compounds investigated by anesthesiologists Joseph F. Artusio, Jr., M.D. (1917-2011) and Alan Van Poznak, M.D. (b. 1927). They published their research into the clinical use of methoxyflurane in 1960. A number of other positive reports quickly followed and it seemed that methoxyflurane was a perfect anesthetic: nonexplosive and nonflammable with fast induction and recovery times and few adverse effects. (In 1979, Dr. Van Pozak was to write that “it had the volatility of peanut butter”, p. 113.) It has also been used for analgesia (pain relief), in such products as Abbott’s Analgizer, a self-administration inhaler.

In 1971, Drs. Richard I. Mazze, James R. Trudell and Michael J. Cousins published evidence that methoxyflurane could adversely affect kidney function. Their research confirmed the results of earlier studies published earlier. In 1979, Dr. Van Poznak noted that the toxicity of the agent was not discovered in its first investigations because it had been administered in very low concentrations. He stated that, just as it’s toxicity was “dose related, so also it is dose avoidable…. However, with the appearance of other anesthetic agents and techniques which avoided this problem entirely, the use of methoxyflurane in surgical anesthesia has gradually decreased” (p. 116.) It is no longer used in the United States.

Note Type: Publication

Notes: Panner BJ, Freeman RB, Lorraine AR-M. Toxicity following methoxyflurane anesthesia, I. JAMA. October 5, 1970;214(1):86-90.

Note Type: Publication

Notes: Taves DR, Fry BW, Freeman RB. Toxicity following methoxyflurane anesthesia, II. JAMA. October 5, 1970;214(1):91-95.

Note Type: Publication

Notes: Taves DR, Alastair JG, Freeman RB. Toxicity following methoxyflurane anesthesia, III. JAMA. October 5, 1970;214(1):96-97.

Note Type: Publication

Notes: Van Poznak A, Artusio JF. Anesthetic properties of a series of fluorinated compounds: II. fluorinated ethers. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. July, 1960;2(4):374-378.

Note Type: Exhibition

Notes: Selected for the WLM website.