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Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
AHFS/ International Drug Names
Legal status ?
Pharmacokinetic data
Half-life 0.5 h
CAS number 59-26-7 YesY
ATC code R07AB02
PubChem CID 5497
ChemSpider 5296 YesY
UNII 368IVD6M32 YesY
KEGG D07408 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C10H14N2O 
Mol. mass 178.231
 YesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Nikethamide is a stimulant which mainly affects the respiratory cycle. Widely known by its former trade name of Coramine, it was used in the mid-twentieth century as a medical countermeasure against tranquilizer overdoses, before the advent of endotracheal intubation and positive-pressure lung expansion. It is now considered to be of no value for such purposes, and may in fact be dangerous.[1]

In alternate terminology, it is known as nicotinic acid diethylamide, which meaningfully emphasizes its laboratory origins, as well as the phonemes of its common name.

Former and current medical use[edit]

Coramine was used by suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams when treating patient Gertrude Hullett, whom he was suspected of murdering.[2] However, the toxicity of nikethamide is quite low (LD50 rabbits 650 mg/Kg oral, LD50 rats 240 mg/Kg s.c.).

Theodor Morell, Adolf Hitler's personal physician, would inject the German ruler with Coramine when Hitler was unduly sedated with barbiturates. In addition, Morell would use Coramine as part of an all-purpose "tonic" for Hitler.[3]

It is available as a short-acting over-the-counter drug in several South American and European countries, combined with glucose in form of lozenges. It is especially useful for mountain climbers to increase endurance at high altitudes. Contraindications include hypertension, cardiovascular pathologies and epilepsy.[4]

Use in sports[edit]

In sports, nikethamide is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a banned substance.

Cyclists Jaime Huelamo and Aad van den Hoek were both caught using the drug at the 1972 Summer Olympics; at the time it was a permitted substance according to the International Cycling Union but not the International Olympic Committee.

When it was discovered that American sprinter and world champion Torri Edwards had used nikethamide, she was banned for two years.

In 2005, however, WADA downgraded nikethamide so that one would only receive a maximum one-year ban.

Official sources have stated that former Russian ice hockey player Alexei Cherepanov had been taking nikethamide and that it had been taken 3 hours prior to the game in which he died.

13-year old Polish kart driver Igor Walilko was given a two-year ban (reduced then to eighteen months) from competition in 2010 due to testing positive for nikethamide after a win in Germany in July, 2010. [5]

Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić was suspended from competition for nine months after he tested positive for nikethamide in April 2013.[6] This ban was later reduced to four months after Cilic appealed and claimed he had unintentionally ingested it in a glucose tablet bought at a pharmacy.[7]


  1. ^ Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p1229
  2. ^ Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  3. ^ Doyle D (February 2005). "Adolf Hitler's medical care" (PDF). J. R. Coll. Physicians Edinb. 35 (1): 75–82. ISSN 1478-2715. OCLC 49953788. PMID 15825245. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  4. ^ [Nikethamid, III-3.3, Toxcenter]
  5. ^ FIA Igor Walilko ruling
  6. ^ "Marin Cilic: Croatian banned for nine months". BBC News. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Cilic cleared to play again after suspension reduced". Tennis. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 

External links[edit]