First introduced in the 1930s, Dexamyl was a rudimentary antidepressant medication. The amphetamine component contained in Dexamyl was intended to elevate mood, while the barbiturate component was added to counter the side effects of the amphetamine. Its name is a portmanteau of dextroamphetamine and amylbarbitone.
The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Food and Drug Administration decided to recall diet drugs which contained amphetamines, taking them off the market by June 30, 1973. SmithKline & French, producer of Dexamyl and Eskatrol, was excepted from an order banning interstate shipment of its drugs. The company asked for a hearing before the F.D.A. Dr. George C. Nichopoulos was indicted for prescribing Dexamyl and Preludin to singer Jerry Lee Lewis in May 1980. The physician was charged with prescribing the drugs knowing that the singer was addicted to them. Dr. Patrick A. Mazza, team physician for the Reading Phillies, said he prescribed Dexamyl, Eskatrol, Dexedrine, and Preludin for Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson, Tim McCarver, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, and Greg Luzinski. Charges were dropped against Mazza, who contended the prescriptions were given in good faith, at the request of the baseball players.
Dexamyl was withdrawn from the market in 1981 because its manufacturer was unable to prove its effectiveness. It had been among the 200 most widely prescribed drugs in the United States.