December 10, 1973

Modern Drugs for Laymen Where No Doctors Exist

Author Affiliations

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

JAMA. 1973;226(11):1361. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03230110049024

To the Editor.—  The publication of my letter (224:250, 1973) was followed by many replies, chiefly to me; one was published (224:1647, 1973). The consensus of views seems worthy of record. A summary of this consensus was sent to responders to the first letter. From their criticisms, this second letter was prepared.Everyone who answered believed that the good done by a layman prescribing modern drugs in undeveloped countries would far exceed the harm. Some who had experience with such a program were enthusiastic about what they had seen. No real data were offered on the therapeutic effectiveness of such a program.All writers believed that the laymen selected to give drugs should first be instructed by a physician, and that the physician should be available for consultation later, because the layman was sure to get beyond his depth at times.The laymen should be trained to use only those