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|Product Name: Phenacetin|
|Appearance: White powder|
Melting point 133-136 °C(lit.)
Boiling point 132 °C / 4mmHg
density 1.1248 (rough estimate)
refractive index 1.5710
storage temp. 2-8°C
Water Solubility 0.076 g/100 mL
Stability: Stable. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, strong acids.
Phenacetin (or acetophenetidin) is a pain-relieving and fever-reducing drug.
Phenacetin was introduced in 1887 in Elberfeld, and was used principally as an analgesic; it was one of the first synthetic fever reducers to go on the market. It is also known historically to be one of the first non-opioid analgesics without anti-inflammatory properties.
Its analgesic effects are due to its actions on the sensory tracts of the spinal cord. In addition, phenacetin has a depressant action on the heart, where it acts as a negative inotrope. It is an antipyretic, acting on the brain to decrease the temperature set point. It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (subacute type) and intercostal neuralgia.
It is metabolized in the body to paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is also a clinically relevant analgesic.
Phenacetin was widely used as a remedy for fever and pain. Phenacetin is now being used as a cutting agent to adulterate cocaine in the UK and Canada, owing to the similar physical features of the two drugs. Due to its low cost, phenacetin is used for research into the physical and refractive properties of crystals. It is an ideal compound for this type of research.
Since their synthesis in the late 1800s paracetamol (acetaminophen) and phenacetin have followed divergent pathways with regard to their popularity as mild analgesic/antipyretic drugs. Initially, paracetamol was discarded in favour of phenacetin because the latter drug was supposedly less toxic. Today the opposite is true, and paracetamol, along with aspirin, has become one of the two most popular ‘over-the-counter’ non-narcotic analgesic agents. This marked increase in the wide approval attained by paracetamol has been accompanied by the virtual commercial demise of phenacetin because of its role, albeit somewhat circumstantial, in causing analgesic nephropathy.
Both paracetamol and phenacetin are effective mild analgesics, suitable for treating mild to moderate pain, and their actions are broadly comparable with those of aspirin and related salicylates, although they do not appear to possess significant anti-inflammatory activity. Since a major portion of a dose of phenacetin is rapidly metabolised to paracetamol, it seems possible that phenacetin owes some of its therapeutic activity to its main metabolite, paracetamol, whereas its most troublesome side effect (methaemoglobinaemia) is due to another metabolite, p-phenetidine. The mechanism of action of paracetamol is poorly defined, although it has been speculated that it may selectively inhibit prostaglandin production in the central nervous system, which would account for its analgesic/antipyretic properties. The lack of any significant influence on peripheral cyclo-oxygenase would explain the absence of anti-inflammatory activity.
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