Journal Title

Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard





First Page


Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Information



The Import Drugs Act has been relatively ignored by the academic community, and is most often relegated to a passing reference in a footnote. Yet the Act represents an important step in our nation's creation of a safe supply of drugs, and thus deserves some attention. In this paper, I give the Act that attention, and seek to place it in an historical context. In Chapter 1, I describe how Congressional action was prompted by medical conditions during the Mexican War and the belief that American soldiers were being given adulterated drugs. Chapter 2 describes the involvement of the professional health organizations in the fight against adulterated drugs, and suggests reasons why drug adulteration posed such a problem to doctors and pharmacists. In Chapter 3, I look at the legislative history of the Act, through an analysis of the House Report and the Congressional debates on the matter. Finally, in Chapter 4, I look at the mechanics of how the Act was implemented by the Customs Service, and describe its short term effects on the problem of adulterated drugs.

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