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Exotic drugs and English medicine: England’s drug trade, c.1550-c.1800

Wallis, Patrick (2010) Exotic drugs and English medicine: England’s drug trade, c.1550-c.1800. Economic History Working Papers (143/10). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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What effect did the dramatic expansion in long distance trade in the early modern period have on healthcare in England? This paper presents new evidence on the scale, origins and content of English imports of medical drugs between 1567 and 1774. It shows that the volume of medical drugs imported exploded in the seventeenth century, and continued growing more gradually over the eighteenth century. The variety of drugs imported changed more slowly. Much was re-exported, but estimates of dosages suggest that some common drugs (e.g.: senna, Jesuits’ bark) were available to the majority of the population in the eighteenth century. English demand for foreign drugs provides further evidence for a radical expansion in medical consumption in the seventeenth century. It also suggests that much of this new demand was met by purchasing drugs rather than buying services.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 Patrick Wallis
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2010 14:56
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2020 00:08

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