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  • Carrie Taylor, Museum Director

Patent Medicines and the False Hopes of Miracle Cures

In the late 19th century with the growth of manufacturing capacity to meet demands from the growing consumer market, there was an explosion of “patent medicines.” These were mass produced proprietary concoctions purported to cure a variety of ailments that underwent no testing to prove their efficacy or safety. Many included harmful ingredients that did not cure disease or alleviate symptoms and often only made illnesses worse. These remedies only succeeding in making fortunes for their manufacturers at the expense of desperate consumers. One survivor of this patent medicine craze is Listerine mouthwash.