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April 10, 1920


JAMA. 1920;74(15):1026. doi:10.1001/jama.1920.02620150034014

How largely the use of drugs is still based on empiric experience is now and then emphasized anew when scientific investigation directs its attention to the real mechanism of their action. This paucity of accurate information regarding the precise mode of action of many commonly used therapeutic agents is illustrated in the case of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). The drug is employed daily in medical practice, and has already attained the undesirable popularity of becoming a "household remedy" exploited daily in the public press and on the billboards. If a conscientious student of medicine were to have inquired only a few months ago regarding the details of the antipyretic manifestations of acetylsalicylic acid, his commendable inquisitiveness could not readily have been rewarded with accurate information. This is not due to the novelty in the use of acetylsalicylic acid, for the compound was introduced into therapeutics more than twenty years ago.1

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