McGoogan News

From the archives: 19th century “patent medicines”

By John Schleicher

The term “patent medicine” was used to describe medicinal compounds in the 19th century, which were sold with creative names and even more outrageous claims.  Also sometimes known as proprietary medicines, these remedies, for the most part, were indeed not patented but only trademarked.Pinkham label

The term “patent” denoted medications whose compounds had been granted government protection for exclusive recipes. Most makers of these “cures,” often small family-run businesses, used ingredients quite similar to their competitors—vegetable extracts laced with ample doses of alcohol, sugar, and various herbals.  In some cases, these “quack medicines” as they were often called, could be deadly, since there was no regulation of their ingredients. Their effectiveness was questionable and their contents were usually kept secret.

The number of patent medicines diminished greatly after 1906, when Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, implementing public health action against unlabeled or unsafe ingredients, misleading advertising, quackery, and similar questionable practices.

Lydia E. Pinkham (1819-1883), who’s slogan was “yours for health,” was a producer of patent medicines.  Her “Vegetable Compound” (see image from package in the library collection) was recommended “for relieving hot flashes and certain other symptoms associated with “Change of Life” and other [female] distress—not due to organic disease.”  Ingredients in this compound included:  Jamaica dogwood, pleurisy root, black cohosh, life root, licorice, dandelion and gentian.  It also contained 13 ½ % ethyl alcohol—as the label notes, “used solely as a solvent and preservative.” Recommended dosage, “take one tablespoonful four times a day, before meals and at bedtime.”

NLM Spotlight: Health Services Research Information Central

Health Services Research Information Central home page

The Health Services Research Information Central (HSRIC) is an online portal for publications and websites for those involved in research related to healthcare quality, access, and cost. Resources include:

  • Links to data & statistics, funding, guidelines, legislation, news stories, and other general resources.
  • Sixteen topic pages of resources on specific health issues such as aging populations, health disparities, and rural health.
  • Health Services Research Projects in Progress (HSRProj): a database of ongoing research projects related to health services and public health.
  • Health Services/Sciences Research Resources (HSRR): a database of data sets and research instruments used for research in health services, public health, and behavioral and social sciences.
  • PubMed Queries: links to specialized PubMed searches on comparative effectiveness and health services research.

If you would like to learn more about some of the HSRIC databases, watch the webinar recording: “Health Services Research: NLM Resources on Health Quality, Cost, and Access” goo.gl/hBMymO.

 

HSRIC is maintained by the National Library of Medicine’s National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology. The goal of this center is to improve access to data and information needed for health services research, and to make the research results readily available.

Services spotlight: literature alerts

Are you conducting long-term research and would like to know when a new article has been written on your topic? The library’s literature alerts service can help. Alerts are searches which run automatically, usually on a weekly basis. The search results are emailed directly to the requestor and are available in Refworks format. Alerts may be set up for the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Scopus, or Cochrane. For additional information or to request a literature alert, please contact Cindy Schmidt at 559-7077 or by email at cmschmidt@unmc.edu.

Library training room now available

The McGoogan Library of Medicine has a new room available for use by faculty, staff and students.  The new Wilson Training Room (WH 8011) is available for meetings including videoconferences, training sessions, webinars and other use as needed. Technology includes a pc computer, network connIMG_1197ection, large screen projection, two 50” small-group monitors enabled with Mersive Solstice POD Unlimited which allows user connectivity from any personal device and interaction with the large screen projection, microphone system, and Echo 360 Pro for recording of presentations.  The Wilson Training Room can accommodate up to 33 occupants (this includes the speaker) and has a flexible seating arrangement.    To reserve the Wilson Training Room, contact Danielle Drummond by email at danielle.drummond@unmc.edu or by phone at 402-559-6839.  Availability can be seen on the Outlook calendar entitled “Wilson Training Room”.