Dr. Seth Arnold’s Cough Killer

coughkillerI’ve highlighted the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) medical history collection in the past. Some of its contents are fascinating and simultaneously amusing. The latest item to be publicized is a 19th century advertisement for Dr. Seth Arnold’s Cough Killer. Apparently “it works like magic” and is priced right at $0.25. A steal compared to today’s offering that run $9-12. What was the active ingredient in Dr. Seth Arnold’s concoction? Dr. Arnold was not required to list the ingredients on the package, but the NLM posting lists morphine as the active ingredient. Did it work? According to Dr. Arnold (who may or may not have been an actual physician), yes it did work. His evidence? “The constantly increasing sale and the satisfaction it gives demonstrates its absolute merit.” How that for evidence based practice? One could argue the addictive nature of morphine was responsible for the increased sales and satisfaction.

Dr. Seth Arnold’s advertisement came in the form of a patent medicine trading card. I’ll trade you a Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root Kidney Liver & Bladder Cure for a Dr. Thomas’ Eclectric Oil.

Check out the collection if you have a moment.