Opium Controls And Growth Of The Medical Profession

During the nineteenth century, opiates were the only effective way to relieve the symptoms of many physical ailments (most medicines used today, including aspirin, became available only in the twentieth century). Opium and its derivative Morphine (Britain was the world's leading manufacturer) were available in patent medicines, in alcoholic solutions, and in other commercial products. The emerging professions of pharmacist and medical physician with advanced training and specialized knowledge were anxious to differentiate themselves from a motley group of healers—chemists, herbalists, barber-dentists, patent-medicine sellers, and others. In the 1850s, such persons could provide opiates to patients since they were not then illegal, and preparations containing opiates provided substantial revenues. Opium eating and Laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opiates) consumption were then widespread in Britain.

British pharmacists became eager to restrict sales of opiates to qualified sellers—but only in such a way that "professional" trade would not be harmed and could be expanded. The 1868 Poisons Act restricted opiate sales to pharmacists. This act mandated the labeling of opiates and required pharmacists to keep records of purchasers. (Similar restrictions on opiate sales in the United States did not occur until the 1906 Food and Drug Act.) Pharmacists, however, could continue to sell opiates directly to customers without a prescription from a physician, and physicians could prescribe or sell opiates to patients. In the early 1880s physicians and researchers in Europe, England, and the United States almost simultaneously began to write about the opium habit and morbid cravings for opiate drugs. In 1884 physicians in England founded the Society for the Study of Inebriety, which promoted a disease model of addiction and the need for treatment.

By 1900, physicians emerged as an elite group who defined all aspects of health care and medical practice in British society; pharmacists "policed" the Poisons Act and effectively retained control of dispensing opiates and other drugs. Thus, by 1914, British pharmacists and physicians had almost a half century of experience, professional collaboration, an ongoing professional association concerned with the dispensing of opiates, and attempts to contain opiate consumption and habitual use.

Healing Inside Out and Outside In

Healing Inside Out and Outside In

Inside Out And Outside In Finding Zen Through Spiritual Healing. Practicing spiritual  wellness is the key to living a life of fulfillment, success, peace, love, prosperity, and joy.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment