Home » Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

the-greatest-scams - Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

This is the part 2 of the article. Read the Part 1.

the-greatest-scams - Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

The beginning of the twentieth century was the era of patent medicines sold everywhere in pharmacies, by mail, by the method of direct selling, without any control by the authorities and the scientific community. In the US, there had been several attempts to legally protect consumers from substandard medicines regularly broken by the pharmacological lobby.

As a result, Americans were treated by anyone with anything from anything. But one look at the newspapers created the illusion that all diseases had been defeated. For example, in 1906 some Dr. King offered customers “the only true remedy for tuberculosis”, and Dr. Rupert Wells — a drug that “cures cancer at home without pain, bandages and operations.”

the-greatest-scams - Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

Thunder over the charlatans rumbled in 1905, when Collier’s, the popular magazine, started to publish Samuel Adams’s articles under the common headline “Great American scam”. The journalist attacked the company Duffy, producing “medicinal whiskey”, which was allegedly created “by the formula invented by one of the greatest chemists of the world”, approved by “seven thousand chemists” and accepted as a drug in “two thousand hospitals.” In practice the “medicinal whiskey” was usual alcohol, and numerous fighters for sobriety took up arms against the charlatans.

US President Theodore Roosevelt supported fighters with charlatans, and in 1906 Congress passed the law “On food products and medicines” that allowed banning medications that could be harmful to health, or simply were not what they are named on the label. After the adoption of the law in 1906 the process of large pharmaceutical corporations driving out small producers of drugs, which later spread to Europe, began in the United States.

the-greatest-scams - Quackery: From Renaissance to the Present Day (Part 2)

By the mid-twentieth century, most civilized countries had had strict laws prohibiting using drugs and treatments that had not been properly tested. However, the development of science, as always, helped quacks to deal with an oncoming crisis. In the twentieth century, thanks to very serious scientists ideas of returning to nature came in fashion, which charlatans quickly took advantage of.

For example, American law on testing new medicine applies to the drugs created on the basis of the synthesized substances, which means that medicine created from natural ingredients do not need the Food and Drug Administration approval. many inventors of various elixirs took advantage of legislative “hole”. In addition, some have made up medication whose effectiveness is difficult to assess. Thus, Laetrile, a drug for the treatment of cancer, created by Ernst Krebs in 1950 from apricot pits, is still outside the law because the FDA neither approved, nor prohibited it.

In today’s world there are all kinds of charlatans of all kinds. Charlatans-showmen continue selling their “miracle products” on the noisy presentations, pseudo-scientists keep developing absurd methods of healing, and newspapers are still full of offers to buy any device that cures all diseases. Science continues moving forward, and so, quackery will keep pace with the times too, taking new and new forms.

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