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Patent medicine

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**1. Historical Context and Origin of Patent Medicines:**
– Term originated in late 17th-century England for elixir marketing.
– Royal endorsements were authorized for advertising.
– No actual patents on remedies to avoid ingredient disclosure.
– Evolution from empirical medicine to modern pharmaceuticals.
– Occultism and sympathetic magic influenced early pharmacology.

**2. Composition, Regulation, and Toxic Ingredients:**
– Ingredients often undisclosed, leading to safety concerns.
– FDA and other authorities regulate safety and effectiveness.
– Quack remedies with terms like nostrums or panaceas exist.
– Toxic ingredients like opium, cocaine, and radium were used.
– Regulation tightened in early 20th century to prevent fraud.

**3. Advertising and Impact on Industry:**
– Pioneered modern advertising techniques with implausible claims.
– Use of invented names and false endorsements common.
– English-speaking world saw early instances of patent medicines.
Advertising influenced by primitive branding and marketing strategies.
– Use of letters patent fueled circulation of early newspapers.

**4. Uses, Surviving Products, and End of Patent Medicine Era:**
– Supposed uses included curing various ailments and diseases.
– Brands from the era like Lydia Pinkham’s Herb Medicine still exist.
– Exposure of hazards led to the end of patent medicine era.
Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 required labeling of ingredients.
– Some products repurposed from medicinal claims to consumer goods.

**5. Global Influence, Legacy, and Key Players:**
– Long history in English-speaking world with early examples.
– American institutions trace their origins to the patent medicine industry.
– Key players like E. Virgil Neal and Samuel Hopkins Adams.
– Brands like Anderson’s Pills and Daffy’s Elixir left a legacy.
– Influence on public perception of health and wellness.

Patent medicine (Wikipedia)

A patent medicine (sometimes called a proprietary medicine) is a non-prescription medicine or medicinal preparation that is typically protected and advertised by a trademark and trade name, and claimed to be effective against minor disorders and symptoms, as opposed to a prescription drug that could be obtained only through a pharmacist, usually with a doctor's prescription, and whose composition was openly disclosed. Many over-the-counter medicines were once ethical drugs obtainable only by prescription, and thus are not patent medicines.

E. W. Kemble's "Death's Laboratory" on the cover of the 3 June 1905 edition of Collier's

The ingredients of patent medicines are incompletely disclosed. Antiseptics, analgesics, some sedatives, laxatives, and antacids, cold and cough medicines, and various skin preparations are included in the group.

The safety and effectiveness of patent medicines and their sale is controlled and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and corresponding authorities in other countries.

The term is sometimes still used to describe quack remedies of unproven effectiveness and questionable safety sold especially by peddlers in past centuries, who often also called them elixirs, tonics, or liniments. Current examples of quack remedies are sometimes called nostrums or panaceas, but easier-to-understand terms like scam cure-all, or pseudoscience are more common.

Patent medicines were one of the first major product categories that the advertising industry promoted; patent medicine promoters pioneered many advertising and sales techniques that were later used for other products. [page needed] Patent medicine advertising often marketed products as being medical panaceas (or at least a treatment for many diseases) and emphasized exotic ingredients and endorsements from purported experts or celebrities, which may or may not have been true. Patent medicine sales were increasingly constricted in the United States in the early 20th century as the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission added ever-increasing regulations to prevent fraud, unintentional poisoning and deceptive advertising. Sellers of liniments, claimed to contain snake oil and falsely promoted as a cure-all, made the snake oil salesman a lasting symbol for a charlatan.

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