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In 1937, when diethylene glycol was used as a solvent in the preparation of a medicinal product, an elixir of sulfanilamide, resulting in deaths, public outcry hastened the promulgation of an act that had been in preparation in the USA for several years, but which had met with opposition from pharmaceutical companies. The 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, as it was known, gave greater powers to the then recently formed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regulating the contents of medicinal formulations. Nevertheless, although similar regulatory systems have since been established around the world, episodes of poisoning with diethylene glycol in pharmaceutical formulations, whether deliberately included adulteration or as a contaminant, continue to be reported, generally in developing countries, usually affecting children, and often causing deaths.

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