July 22, 1933


JAMA. 1933;101(4):284-285. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740290032014

Recently the question of the desirability of patents of products used in the field of medicine has been hotly debated. The Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association says specifically, "It is unprofessional to receive remuneration from patents for surgical instruments or medicines." It has been the pride of medicine down the centuries that it gave freely of its discoveries for the benefit of mankind. Jenner's contribution of vaccination against smallpox, Pasteur's method for the control of hydrophobia, Withering's contribution of digitalis, became the property of all who cared to use them for the prevention or treatment of disease.

As the science of medicine developed, however, new elements entered into its work and participated in its endeavors. Physicians began less and less to concoct their own remedies and to depend on the manufacturer of pharmaceuticals for the collection of materials and for their preparation and distribution. In an

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