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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/464

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

disease to suffer neglect. It is conceivable that in the future an adequate growth in knowledge of the inherent resources of the organism may lead to their omission; but that day is not yet come.

Wherever there is demand it is met by supply. An overmastering desire of most people is to secure the largest material benefits for the least money. Where a physician is consulted and medicines are ordered, these must be paid for in addition to the fee for advice, hence all manner of devices are employed to reduce the cost. The fact is too often overlooked that only by the direct application of skilled advice to the instance, then a suitable remedy being chosen, is safety to be secured. The business man might otherwise as well depend on law primers and omit to consult skilled attorneys. The unwarrantable repetition of prescriptions emanating from physicians of admitted wisdom, and the recommending of these to friends and neighbors gratuitously, are obvious abuses of what is essentially an economically scientific procedure.

As commercial enterprises grew in complexity and breadth of scope, these 'favorite prescriptions' began to be manufactured, advertised and distributed in wholesale fashion. People were encouraged to believe that they might thus secure medical combinations of great power at first hand, and the apparent but false economy was broadly welcomed. These preparations were made agreeable, or at least acceptable, and any one could secure a bottle full of promising potentialities guaranteed to overcome whatsoever ills might occur, real or fancied. Hence arose two classes of drug combination, the nostrum, offered directly to the consumer, based on the commercial principle of exploiting 'favorite prescriptions,' and the proprietary preparations offered to the physician, purporting to be improvements, the product of laboratory researches, constituting true chemical discoveries or refinements and specializations in scientific manufacture. As to the former (the nostrum), it is impossible to see, viewed with the utmost charity, any reason for its existence. Of many of the proprietary preparations, it must be admitted that they evidence excellent advances made by the reputable drug manufacturers, who devote much money and scientific effort to the perfection of methods and products. They have, in many instances, however, transgressed their just prerogatives and invaded the territory of the physician. They make diagnoses, teach us pathology and instruct us how to prescribe.

The sales of nostrums have grown so large as to constitute an overwhelming proportion of all medicines consumed. Their unguided use induces drug habits, fetish worship, incalculable harm.

The educated experienced practitioner of medicine has been forced by the reckless drug consumption thus induced to take not only a secondary position, but is placed low in the scale of guiding influence,