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How Do Practicing Physicians Use New Drugs?

Harry F. Dowling, MD
JAMA. 1963;185(4):233-236. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060040017012.
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WE LAUGH AT Molière's humor, yet we recognize the kernel of truth in his quip. Most visits to the doctor do result in the patients' swallowing pills, and what is more, the patients seem to want it that way. As Osler put it, "The desire to take medicine is one feature which distinguishes man... from his fellow creatures."1 Not only are many drugs used, but every drug of significance is prescribed or administered by a physician. Thus, the fruits of the labor of thousands of scientists in laboratories, the mountains of data amassed by these and other investigators, the millions of words spawned by the advertising copywriters, all must be beamed to a single spot—to the brain of the individual physician, who must decide whether or not to give a particular drug to a particular patient. Experts may advise, salesmen may cajole, and patients may plead. But the physician must decide.


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