Who pioneered the use of antipsychotics in North America?

Emmanuel Stip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Neuroleptics were introduced into North America 60 years ago. The credit for this advance is generally accorded to Heinz Lehmann. I sought to explore whether Lehmann really was the first North American psychiatrist to study the effects of chlorpromazine (CPZ) and to provide a more balanced view of its application in a clinical context.

METHOD: I searched for historical documents and published articles in several libraries and interviewed psychiatrists active from 1952-1970.

RESULTS: The first article in English was published in the July volume of the Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry in 1954 (n=71). Another article, written in French by Roland Saucier and published in a journal called Le Saguenay Médical, also described the effects of CPZ on a Canadian psychiatric population in August 1954 (n>200). However, the first prescription for CPZ was written by Roland Saucier, who brought the product back from Paris after a fellowship there. Ruth Kajander, in Ontario, was also one of the first prescribers of this drug, following her study of its use in anesthesia and a publication in the proceedings of a symposium.

CONCLUSION: The contents of the 2 naturalistic studies were compared. Lehmann's study started 1 month before that of Saucier. Lehmann was the first North American psychiatrist to publish an article on CPZ, but Roland Saucier nevertheless made an important contribution, being the first to prescribe this drug in North America and reporting results for a study with a sample size 3 times that of Lehmann's study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S5-S13
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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