Secret remedies, medical ethics, and the finances of the British Medical Journal

  • Peter Bartrip
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 49)


This essay explores three themes relating to the use of patent or proprietary medicines, the so-called “secret remedies,” in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. First, quackery in nineteenth-century Britain and in particular the attitudes of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association (British Medical Association, or “BMA”, from 1856) towards it. Second, the economics of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and its relationship with its parent body, the BMA: How was the Journal funded? Was it profitable? To what extent was the Association reliant upon BMJ advertising revenue? Third, the BMJ’s well-known campaign against the trade in secret remedies. These themes will then be drawn together by examining how they related to Journal policy on the acceptance of advertising from pharmaceutical and other companies. The question to be asked here is: was this policy ethical?


Medical Ethic British Medical Journal Select Committee Patent Medicine British Medical Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Bartrip
    • 1
  1. 1.Nene CollegeNorthhamptonEngland

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