By Margery Facklam, Howard Facklam, Sean M. Grady
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Additional resources for Modern Medicines: The Discovery and Development of Healing Drugs (Science and Technology in Focus)
Washington was still sick the next morning, and two other doctors were called in to assist. They ordered two more “copious bleedings,” a hot pack called a “blister” for the patient’s throat and feet, and two doses of calomel, a strong medication also known as mercurous chloride. Washington received another bleeding that afternoon, for a total loss of four pints of blood—two quarts’ worth, enough to send anyone’s blood pressure to dangerously low levels. His physicians had him force another dose of calomel down his throat, followed by a potion to make him vomit.
Unscrupulous drug makers still were able to get away with selling useless concoctions as medicine. ” It would take Congress two more tries before it passed drug regulations that actually worked: the passage of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act in 1938—following the death of more than 100 people from a particularly fatal elixir—and a series of amendments in 1962. Drug companies now had to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that the drugs were safe and did what their makers claimed. With basic science research revealing the causes of disease and creating drugs to fight them, medicine was about to enter a new era.
Of course, germs did not have to wait for a battle before going to work. The soldiers of World War I, especially those who fought in France, spent most of their time packed in trenches and caves dug into the countryside. Captured soldiers had things even worse, stuck in quickly built (and often poorly constructed) prisoner-of-war camps.