International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Guy H Faget

    Status Physician
    Country USA


    Guy Henry Faget (1891-1947) was an American health officer known for his role as director of the Carville leprosarium and his pioneering use of sulfanomides in leprosy treatment.

    Faget graduated from Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, in 1914. He became resident physician in the Presbyterian Hospital. He gained experience in tropical diseases while working as a physician and health officer in British Honduras. He worked for many years in military hospitals as an officer of the US Public Health Service.

    Faget conducted experiments with sulfanomides in the treatment of malaria, but found that this treatment was ineffective. However, he was aware of other research showing the effectiveness of sulfanomides (especially promin) to treat tuberculosis. This led him to investigate whether the same treatment could be used in leprosy.

    In 1940, Faget became medical officer in charge of the Carville National Leprosarium, Louisiana, United States. Prior to his arrival, the patients there had been receiving treatment with chaulmoogra oil. The effectiveness of this treatment had been questioned by leprosy experts at the time, and it caused unpleasant side effects. Soon after Faget's arrival at Carville, he began experiments with sulfone drugs in the treatment of leprosy, conducting tests with volunteer patients. He started using sulphanilamide with nine volunteers in 1940, and he found that after six months, there was a rapid improvement in the ulcers from which these patients suffered.

    After hearing of Edmund Vincent Cowdry's success with promin in rats, Faget began treating Carville patients with promin in March, 1941. He reported in 1943 that “Promin is the sulfonamide drug which thus far seems to possess to the greatest extent some chemotherapeutic properties against leprosy.” He continued studies with other sulfones, including diasone and promizole, and these further trials definitively demonstrated the drugs' efficacy. These drugs are still used as part of multi-drug therapy for leprosy treatment today. Carville officially discontinued the use of chaulmoogra oil in 1947.

    Faget was a member of the International Leprosy Association (ILA) and a consultant to the Advisory Medical Board of the Leonard Wood Memorial. He died in New Orleans on July 17, 1947. In 1958, he was officially honoured by the 7th International Congress of Leprology in Tokyo as the pioneer sulfone therapist.


    'Obituaries: Dr Guy Henry Faget.' International Journal of Leprosy Vol 15, No 3.

    International Journal of Leprosy, Centennial Festskrift edition, Vol 41, No 2. 1973.

    Parascandola, J. "Sulfones and the miracle at Carville." Revue d'histoire de la pharmacie 44.312 suppl (1995): 409-412.


    “The Promin Treatment of Leprosy: A Progress Report” US Public Health Reports No 48. 26 Nov 1943. “Present Studies of Promin Treatment in Leprosy” IJL 1946.

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