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September 19, 1925


JAMA. 1925;85(12):902-903. doi:10.1001/jama.1925.02670120040015

It is stated, on the authority of competent historians, that there never has been a period in human history when drugs have not been known. Although one may cite many older references to the employment of the long familiar compounds of antimony or mercury, of aconite, belladonna or cinchona products, in contrast with the simple decoctions of camomile, spearmint, sage and the like, it is nevertheless true that the exact study of the actions of drugs dates back scarcely three quarters of a century. The modern science of pharmacology has arisen since the establishment of its first special laboratory at Dorpat in 1856, a period little beyond the working life-span of many living physicians.

In the earlier days of this scientific development along modern lines, the foremost efforts were directed toward ascertaining precisely how the known drugs act in the body in both health and disease. In a sense, such