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

Patrick Wallis ()

Economic History Working Papers from London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History

Abstract: 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.

JEL-codes: L81 N0 I10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2010-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ehl:wpaper:28577

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