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April 30, 1927

SHALL CONGRESS HAVE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH OVER THE SICK?

JAMA. 1927;88(18):1436-1437. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02680440070034

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Abstract

To the Editor:  —The Supreme Court has decided by a majority of 5 to 4, in the case of Lambert v. Yellowley, that Congress has power to limit the amount of whisky which a physician may prescribe for a patient to one pint in ten days, irrespective of the patient's condition or the physician's opinion as to the patient's needs.Previously the Supreme Court had decided by unanimous opinion, in the case of Everard's Breweries v. Day, that Congress has power to declare that malt liquors are without therapeutic value and may not be used as remedial agents by physicians.Under these decisions Congress becomes both pharmacologist and physician; Congress has power to decide what is and what is not medicine; Congress may fix by legislative fiat the dosage of remedies contained in the United States Pharmacopeia. And under these decisions, Congress may penalize any physician who dares to oppose

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