Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
The fluid extracts Dr. Scudder always viewed with distrust, and his caution was founded upon experience. Why he so distrusted them he tells in this article. His early experience with valueless medicines made him extremely careful of the quality of the medicines employed, and he would tolerate nothing but products of genuine worth, strength, and purity. The fluid extracts he regarded as the "American fraud."—Ed. Gleaner.
THE AMERICAN FRAUD—FLUID EXTRACTS.—The "fluid extract" is peculiarly an American institution, and one of the least creditable we are blessed with. I assert that a physician may go into the general market to buy "fluid extracts," and eight specimens out of ten will be so nearly worthless that they can not be used with certainty in the practice of medicine. In no other civilized country can this be said of any class of medicinal preparations, but in no. other will this class of drugs be found.
If you send a prescription to a retail drugstore, you have no assurance that you will get a decently good medicine, for the reason that the druggist buys his stock where he can buy it the cheapest. It may be news to some of our readers that more than one manufacturer sells his "fluid extracts" to the retailer at 70 per cent discount, and will even take ten per cent off this to make a large sale or get the cash. What can you expect under such circumstances? The price obtained will not pay for the alcohol that should be used, much less for a carefully gathered and preserved crude article, and for pharmaceutical skill.
If you will pick up a dose list from some of these houses, you will see that the most of these are given in teaspoonful doses, and some even larger. If nastiness is a virtue, then they have it, but if you use medicine in the small dose for its direct effect, then you do not want it.
I know that a few manufacturers put a "fluid extract" label on a good tincture, and thus offer an exception to the rule, but the rule is as I have stated it.
We have been cursed with poor medicines, and the readers of the Journal can hardly imagine the fight we have been obliged to make against them, and for good articles. It is not to the interest of large manufacturers to concede that anything has been gained, and they will assert to you that this class of medicine has always been good, are still the best remedies in the market, and theirs is especially the medicines of all medicines.
They also do a moderate amount of misrepresentation (we used to call it lying) about specific medication and specific medicines, but the only answer needed is to ask the reader to turn to the ""books" and see for himself. We recommend a moderate amount of "office pharmacy" to any physician, at least enough that he will know a good remedy when he sees it, and having used a good remedy once, he will never be satisfied with a poor one afterwards. The directions in Specific Medication are for the physician, and there is not a single fluid remedy that he can not prepare if he wishes.
I say to every reader, learn to know a good medicine when you see it, buy of good houses, and have this arrangement, that if a medicine is not satisfactory, it shall be returned.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1879.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.