To the editor:

Your story on the first use of penicillin bought back memories of another first use, an earlier one, that of the first sulfa drug, which I administered to patients when I was an intern at the New Haven Hospital during 1936-1937. The first sulfa drug was called Prontosil; it was a red liquid and was given by intravenous infusion. I cannot claim I was the first to use it, but it was the first sulfa drug and the first antibiotic that was available when I was on duty in the little isolation building next to the Fitkin pavilion.

I doubt if anyone remembers whether there was an effective treatment for infectious disease before the first antibiotic, but it was available. If anyone wishes to pursue the question further, it is told in my story “Quellung,” which can be found in my Web page. The URL is

Jerome Ritter M.D. ’36
Tucson, Ariz.