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February 12, 1938


JAMA. 1938;110(7):513. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790070037013

In a survey of the business of birth control just published by Fortune,1 the industry at present is said to be a $250,000,000 a year business, with 57,000 outlets in drug stores and an estimated 243,000 other outlets of various and sundry kinds in every corner of the land. The total profit of the business to the manufacturers alone is estimated at $75,000,000. It is a strange industry, with one foot among the sciences and reliable manufacturers and the other among hundreds of scoundrels who make small fortunes out of ignorance. Among its salesmen are bell-hops, elevator boys, street pedlers and even slot machines. And yet under the law it is theoretically impossible to sell contraceptives except for bona fide medical purposes.

As the writers in Fortune emphasize, the contraceptive manufacturer realizes that most of the products are unsatisfactory and frequently fail to produce the desired result. Recently the