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June 30, 1975

American Self-Dosage Medicines: An Historical Perspective

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1975;232(13):1379. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03250130061029

The advertisements for over-thecounter medicines are not what they used to be. Instead of making blatant claims they tell us in modest tones that a given medicine may give temporary relief from minor aches and pains; or perhaps its chief virtue may be that it is mild and that doctors recommend it; or perhaps that it contains more iron and vitamins than a competitor. The appeal of television advertisements, for example, lies not on therapeutic claims but on the stage setting.

It was not always so, and the tremendous change did not arise from pure altruism. Rather it came about through social and economic conflicts and a long series of legislative struggles. James Harvey Young, outstanding authority on health quackery in America, has given us a survey of the recent efforts to protect the consumer. The present small volume— lectures given at the University of Kansas—complement and bring up to