A brief history of fake medicines: ancient Greeks and ‘trashy elixirs’

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

On 9 February the Falsified Medicines Directive will come into force, making it harder for fake prescription medicines to reach patients. Although this is the latest piece of legislation to tackle counterfeit medicines, the problem is far from a new one.

For as long as branded medicines have been around, authenticity has been important. As early as 500 BC, priestesses on the Greek island of Lemnos supplied tablets of medicinal clay, stamped with a special seal while still wet, in order to guarantee they were the genuine article. Read more A brief history of fake medicines: ancient Greeks and ‘trashy elixirs’