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December 6, 1919


JAMA. 1919;73(23):1772. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610490036018

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No longer should artists—at least American artists-represent Bacchus astride a wine barrel; the little god should be depicted astraddle a "patent medicine" bottle. While no statistics are at hand—largely because those who could collect such statistics are not going to publish them—on the increase in the consumption of the numerous highly alcoholized "patent medicines" since the advent of national prohibition, there is no question that the sales of these products have been mightily augmented. As every physician and pharmacist knows, there are on the American market a number of widely advertised and extensively sold "patent medicines" whose most potent ingredient is alcohol. All such preparations, of course, contain, in addition to the alcohol, certain drugs on which the manufacturers base their therapeutic claims. These drugs, in nearly every instance, are either harmless or, if potent, are present in such small quantities as to have a negligible physiologic effect.

The problem

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