Tuesday, 07.12.2021

Amara McLaughlin-Harris: The Legal History of Psychoactive Drugs.
1. Introduction

Charles Beasley’s comment


            There are two points in Amara McLaughlin-Harris’s Introduction with which I have a slightly different view. While I would agree that industry has had an increasingly dominant influence on clinical (more precisely therapeutic) research, I believe there is still a tremendous amount of basic research on which industry has little influence (but funding is probably shrinking, at least in the US).  

            The author dates the advent of psychopharmacological development to the early 1950s. I have thought about this dating in the context of book and manuscript collecting and believe it a hard date to fix. One needs to consider, for example, amphetamines and barbiturates. One can go a bit farther back and consider bromides. Morphine and cocaine once purified and produced by pharma/chemical companies, I believe should be considered. The dating perhaps requires the dual consideration of the pharmacology of molecules developed by companies and the evolution of nosology/diagnostics. The dating to the early 1950s is probably most appropriate if one considers that beginning date to be when the chemicals with central nervous system (CNS) activity were produced as therapies for “modern” diagnostic concepts. However, chemicals with such CNS effects that were clearly known and that were the reason that these chemicals were commercially produced had been around much earlier than the early 1950s.


January 31, 2019