Professor Joachimoglu retires from international narcotics control organs




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Creation Date: 1968/01/01

Professor Joachimoglu retires from international narcotics control organs

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Prof. Dr. George Joachimoglu, an eminent Greek pharmacologist and physician, member of the Permanent Central Narcotics Board from 1958 and President of the Drug Supervisory Body since 1963, retired from these organs last March when they were fused into the International Narcotics Control Board, which came into being under the Single Convention. During his ten years with the Permanent Central Narcotics Board and Drug Supervisory Body, Professor Joachimoglu rendered great service to the cause of international narcotics control. The two organs derived immense benefit from his wise counsel and great technical skill and experience, and international society owes him a debt of gratitude for his dedicated public service in this field.

Professor Joachimoglu was born in Koula, near Smyrna. He studied medicine at the University of Berlin under such outstanding professors as Waldeyer, Emil Fischer (Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1902), August Bier, Max Rubner, W. Hiss, Fr. Kraus and Arthur Heffter.

After qualifying he practised medicine in Smyrna, but then he went back to Berlin to study chemistry, working for two years as an assistant to Emil Fischer. He was appointed assistant to Arthur Heffter at the Pharmacological Laboratory of Berlin University; one of his early successes in research was to trace tetrachloroethane as the causative factor in many cases of jaundice among factory workers who had been handling a certain lacquer used in aeroplanes.

In 1918 he was elected Assistant Professor of Pharmacology (Privat Docent) at the University of Berlin. In 1923 he was elected Professor Extraordinary of Experimental Pharmacology, and became Director of the Pharmacological Laboratory of Berlin University. However, he gave up these distinguished posts to return to his native country to fill the Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Athens which he held for thirty years. In 1929 he was elected a lifelong member of the Academy of Athens. In 1935 he was elected President of the Supreme Health Council of Greece, being re-elected for the next twenty years. During the war, it fell to him to establish the first blood-bank in a Greek hospital.

His association with the international control organs began in 1950 when he was called to Geneva as consultant to the WHO Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs. He was then nominated a member of this Committee of Experts and served till this year, also being Chairman of the Committee twice.

At the age of 70, in 1958, he retired from the post of professor at Athens University. Members of the Academy of Athens, his university colleagues and other scientists marked his retirement by organizing a scientific conference. That same year, however, he was elected to the Drug Supervisory Body; for the next five years he was its Vice-President, becoming President in 1963, an office he held till his retirement.

Professor Joachimoglu's interest in narcotic drugs first found expression in 1924, when he wrote the chapter on hashish in Arthur Heffter's text book of pharma- cology. His interest in hashish grew and he is now one of the foremost authorities on this drug.

He has long been a collaborating scientist in the United Nations cannabis research programme which is co-ordinated by the Laboratory of the United Nations Division of Narcotic Drugs at Geneva. He suggested the preparation of a uniform "Cannabis Reference Sample "for use in this research and last year he published (in this Bulletin) one of the first papers reporting studies using this sample which was prepared by the United Nations Laboratory.

In 1964, the CIBA Foundation organized a symposium on hashish in his honour and 26 scientists and pharmacologists, experts in the subject, attended from all parts of the world. The proceedings of this symposium were published in honour of Professor Joachimoglu under the title "Hashish, its chemistry and pharmacology ". He has a large corpus of scientific work to his credit including 200 publications covering not only chemistry and pharmacology but also medicine, physiology, biology and toxicology. His textbook of pharmacology in two volumes has been put out in five editions. His research on hashish is still in progress.


Etholm and Steen state: A new drug, meprotixol, which in animal experiments has shown a marked antitussive effect, was investigated in man in order to elucidate its antitussive activity and effect on the respiratory centre. The results appear to confirm the findings in animal experiments. The antitussive activity of meprotixol was compared with that of codeine phosphate on coughs induced experimentally by inhalation of citric acid. Meprotixol showed an antitussive effect equal to that of codeine phosphate. Unlike most antitussive agents of the opium alkaloid group, meprotixol does not have a depressant effect on the respiratory centre .( Acta Pharmacologica et Toxicologica, 1968 Fasc. 1, Vol. 26, p. 1-8.)


Keeler and Reifler have reported violent behaviour in the case of an epileptic patient who had been free of grand mal convulsions for six months, but showed signs of violence after using marijuana 7 times within three weeks. During this period the subject also had three grand mal seizures which occurred neither during the marijuana syndrome nor in the period of immediate withdrawal. The irritable and violent behaviour was not present before marijuana use.

The authors call attention to the possible hazard in the use of marijuana by seizure-prone individuals. The case is also of therapeutic importance because, even though most users of marijuana experience tranquillity and are relatively inactive during the reaction, crimes of violence committed by marijuana users are occasionally reported. They suggest that these might be explained by the interactions of the marijuana effect and brain abnormality. The statistical association of delinquent behaviour both with marijuana use, and with certain types of brain dysfunction, increases the possibility of such interaction.

The grand mal seizures and change in behaviour subsequent to marijuana use but not during the marijuana reaction cannot be explained on a simple pharmacological basis. The effects on the central nervous system of marijuana have not been well defined. Although marijuana is usually sympathomimetic, it has been reported to increase electroencephalographic alpha activity. Nevertheless, most of its effects are consistent with cerebral excitation. The patient's convulsions, however, did not occur during the drug reaction.

There is a clear temporal relation between the use of marijuana, the occurrence of convulsions, and deterioration of behaviour in the patient's history although causality is less certain. The relation is not one of unusual behaviour during the drug reaction but of changes subsequent to marijuana use. The persistent but sporadic reports of crime characterized by excessively poor impulse control by marijuana users even while not under the influence of the drug suggest that studies of the synergism of chronic marijuana use and cerebral arrhythmia may be warranted. [Diseases of the Nervous System 28: 7, 1967, pp. 474-475. (Résumé in Mental Health Digest, December 1967, p. 12-13.)].