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Revisiting "the origins of compulsory drug prescriptions"

, : Revisiting "the origins of compulsory drug prescriptions". American Journal of Public Health 85(1): 109-115

It has been argued that today's prescription drug market originated in the arbitrary acts of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which in 1938 issued regulations creating a class of drugs that could be sold by prescription only. On the basis of the FDA's administrative records, I argue that the 1938 regulations on prescription drug labeling were initiated by industry and then agreed to by the FDA; that contemporaries understood and accepted the reasons for restricting the use of certain drugs; and that the subsequent evolution of these regulations is best understood as an FDA effort to limit industry abuses of the prescription labeling system. This decade-long war of position ended when drug manufacturers persuaded the US Congress to enshrine their version of prescription labeling in law in a highly politicized struggle over government's role in the economy.


PMID: 7832245

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