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JAMA 100 Years Ago
February 26, 2003


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(8):1052. doi:10.1001/jama.289.8.1052a

The recent utterances of the New York health commissioner showing the adulteration in the pharmaceutical retail drug trade, and still later remarks of the chemist of the Agricultural department to the New York Society of Medical Jurisprudence, alike indicate the existence of an evil that especially affects the medical practitioner. If we can not depend on the dispenser for pure articles in our prescriptions the administration of medicine is a farce, and we had better go back to the old saddle bag or the more modern buggy case. If reputable drug stores, such as are many of the 300 from which the samples were obtained by the New York health commissioner, can not be relied on, the situation would seem to be discouraging. We can not lay everything to the retailers, however; they are themselves often victims and the matter needs further investigation. The foundation of a government drug laboratory, which would keep track of the standard preparations and check adulteration, would be a boon not only to the medical profession, but to its patrons. Of course, the manufacturers of the adulterated proprietary drugs make the most of it, but to a certain extent the high prices placed on their preparations which would otherwise be more readily available give them a certain responsibility for the evil. We hope the investigation will not be dropped until the evil practice is ended.