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September 1, 1951


JAMA. 1951;147(1):62. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670180068015

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Until recent years the use of drugs has been accompanied by comparatively few worries concerning toxic reactions. An overdose might kill, but usually the difference between the average dose and a fatal dose was large. Not often did a patient react unexpectedly, except when a certain group of drugs was used or unless the patient was unusually sensitive to a drug. Today, however, the situation is different. Potent and specific drugs have been developed; their effects are sometimes unpredictable, and in some cases death has followed their use. Physicians thus are asked sometimes whether modern drug therapy is safe, whether the probable outcome is worth the risk. Perhaps the simplest way to answer such questions is to say that modern drug therapy sometimes produces seeming miracles, that without it countless lives would be lost and untold suffering continued. At the same time it can be pointed out that, with adequate

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