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September 12, 1908


JAMA. 1908;LI(11):922-923. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02540110044005

The underlying principle of the campaign against fraud and misrepresentation in the proprietary medicine business is honesty in advertising. The essential requirement is: "Tell the truth—the whole truth." It would be difficult to formulate a simpler or more reasonable demand, and yet in spite of its simplicity—or is it because of it?—the opposition to the propaganda for reforms in proprietary medicines has been enormous. This has come not only from manufacturers whose methods and products alike were fraudulent—from such, antagonism was expected and desired—but also from firms of high standing who have insisted, to all intents and purposes, that honesty in advertising is Utopian and visionary. The reason for this attitude is not far to seek. The belief expressed not long ago by the Cumberland Presbyterian, that "virtually all advertisements are lies"1 has been very generally held. Commerce has sanctioned "justifiable exaggeration," so long that it is impossible to

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