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’

The fascinating relationship between pharmacy and smoking

By John Betts, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum Officer

Given the scientific knowledge we now have about the harmful effects of smoking on health it seems unbelievable that in the past medical professionals viewed smoking as an effective and legitimate medicinal treatment. One of my father’s aunts, who regularly suffered from coughs and sore throats, was told by her doctor in the 1930s to take up smoking to toughen up her throat!

The fascinating, and at times contradictory, relationship between pharmacy and smoking inspired me to curate new Developing Treatments exhibition ‘Going Up in Smoke’ – Smoking and Pharmacy. Read more The fascinating relationship between pharmacy and smoking