Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
Dr. Scudder saw in the advertising of proprietaries in medical journals a close relationship to that condemned by many in the religious and lay periodicals. Quackery medical and quackery religious advertised for a mere pittance, is laid bare in this article. Prof. Scudder kept in the middle of the road, countenancing neither the shortcomings of the doctor with proprietaries to sell nor the journal ready to prostitute by the advertising of humbug medicines. Surely no leader was more truly ethical, even if he did not affiliate with the dominant school.—Ed. Gleaner.
PROPRIETARY MEDICINES.—Physicians have a good deal to say against patent and proprietary medicines, and the religious papers that advertise them. It is very shocking, very—too bad; but they seem never to think of the professional quackery that runs riot, and the medical journals that eke out a feeble life by doing the advertising.
Dr. Jones or Smith may have his "compound cathartic pills," or "pectoral cough syrup," or "liquid physic," or "balsam," or what not, and if he keeps his formula to himself, and sells his wisdom in a bottle, it is a good thing for him. Or he may write his favorite prescription for pills, pectoral, or physic, and it will be a good thing for the druggist for many years, and by many people. These are common methods of doing a nostrum business.
Our principal nostrum mongers are pharmacists and druggists, who are always devising things for the benefit of the "busy practitioner." They make things enticing by bottle, label, or box, talk about "elegant pharmacals," get numerous certificates—sometimes whole Faculties endorse their stuff—and wheedle physicians or patients out of their hard-earned dollars. Medical journals do the advertising for a pittance, and give their reading pages for nothing, prostituting all that is manly, honorable, or professional, to make their poor sheets live.
Look over this advertising stuff, and then turn to your Christian, Telescope, Observer, or Purificator, and see the close resemblance between the quackery medical and the quackery religious. The doctor is supposed to be quite as credulous as the saint, and he is in fact. The saint looks for miracles in the way of cures from the medicines advertised, and the medical sinner expects the most improbable results from the queer things concocted and advertised by the druggist. It would be difficult to determine which is the most credulous.
"Come, let us reason together." If you will closely examine the advertising you will see there is humbug in it. One advertiser claims to have sold a half million bottles of "vitalized phosphites" the past year. Vitalized fiddlesticks! but quite as much vitalized as the other stuff advertised. We have pretty nearly gotten through with the elixirs, which cultivated intemperance, alteratives are at a discount, phosphites and hypophosphites have nearly had their day, bitters do not take well, and stinking hog's gizzards and pancreas will settle down to a fair article of pepsin rarely administered.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1882
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.