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April 9, 1973

Modern Drugs for Laymen Where No Doctors Exist

Author Affiliations

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

JAMA. 1973;224(2):250. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220150058030

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To the Editor.—  Should modern drugs be put into the hands of laymen in parts of the world where no doctors are available?As medical consultant to the Pennsylvania branch of Partners for the Alliance, I receive requests for aid from our correspondents in the state of Bahia, Brazil. I recently had before me a request for drugs from a very active Catholic priest who, with the help of nuns, proposed to start a clinic in a rapidly growing area of western Brazil where the population was estimated to be about 50,000 and which was completely without resident medical personnel.Conscious of the toxic reactions to modern drugs that are such a conspicuous feature of medical practice in the United States, I feared that to give such drugs to persons untrained in medicine would, despite the best of intentions, do more harm than good. I advised that the request be