MODERN ELIXIRS.—We publish in the present number the formulary of elixirs adopted by the Newark Pharmaceutical Association, to which we alluded in the preceding number, and take occasion to express our gratification at the position our friends have taken. There is ample opportunity and quite sufficient cause for pharmacists in other parts of the country to follow the example set by our brethren in Baltimore, Newark and some other cities. The abuses to which the introduction of these and similar preparations have led are quite numerous, and if some of them could be known to their full extent they would probably present an appalling picture.
The inception of this class of preparations probably arose from the necessity of presenting to the patient some bitter, nauseous drugs in a pleasing and palatable form; but of late years many parties in different parts of the country have applied their ingenuity to the invention of all sorts of elixirs, medicinal wines, and similar preparations, and unthinking physicians and pharmacists have promoted the introduction of these wares to such an extent that in some places they have become a perfect nuisance. A few bottles of such preparations left with the physician or apothecary, in many instances secure their patronage, the former prescribing, the latter recommending these particular manufactures, until in some officines it has become necessary to keep, for dispensing, preparations bearing the same name, but emanating from half a dozen and more inventors. This deplorable state of affairs can be counteracted in but two ways—either by the method adopted by the Newark Pharmaceutical Association, or by that inaugurated some years ago by the Maryland College of Pharmacy. The former endeavors to frame formulas, and rigidly adheres to them in, all cases where a special make is not ordered; the latter regards them in the light of nostrums, because their mode of preparation is withheld, or, if published, yields a different article; hence the refusal to dispense any elixirs, &c., unless made by formulas approved by the College. This latter way, if more generally followed, would doubtless arraign them publicly in the position which they ought to occupy, and soon sweep them from the shelves of respectable pharmacies. We have no information how far our Baltimore friends have gone in this matter. We remember that six years ago they commenced with elixir of valerianate of ammonia, and afterwards supplanted commercial bitter wine of iron, which is not bitter. If they have not rested there, their continued labors ought to show some good results now.
But there is another side to this question, which shows, perhaps, a still more, pernicious influence. Some of these preparations are so destitute of medicinal properties, but are so agreeable to the taste, that they may be taken for some length of time, until gradually, through the alcohol they contain, they create an appetite for alcoholic stimulants. It is not our purpose to inquire to whom attaches the greater blame for such a result, which outweighs, by far, all the benefit that may possibly be conferred by the pleasing appearance and the agreeable taste. But we offer this observation as an other reason for pharmacists—individuals as well as associations—to follow in the path pointed out above, before the greater part of our Pharmacopoeia is supplanted by the elixirs, wines, cordials, &c., made and offered as specialties by a host of manufacturers.
The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).