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Pure Food and Drug Act

  • By: Matthew Robinson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first national law addressing drugs in U.S. history. The law did not prohibit any drug, but was instead aimed at protecting consumers from potentially dangerous products that were being widely sold yet not regulated for safety.

The law provided for federal inspections of meat products and forbid manufacturing and transportation of adulterated food products. Historians agree that the law was partly motivated by Upton Sinclair's book, The Jungle, which illustrated the horrific conditions present in the nation's meatpacking industry, conditions that included poor quality meat, poisoned rats, and hazardous working conditions. The law was also partly in response to the growth of the patent medicine industry. A Boston catalogue in 1857 had included about 600 patent ...

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