If it looks like a fake and sounds like a fake - Quack!

July 06, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Morphine - it is addictive, has an instant impact and relieves pain.

And in the 19th century it was a popular ingredient in patent medicines - medicines that didn't require a prescription at that time.

It also was cheap so these medicines were marketed to the poor, who bought into sensational claims that these medicines were cure-alls, says John Nelson, historic sites facilitator for the City of Hagerstown.

Such concoctions became known as "quack" or fraudulent medicines, Nelson says.

Nelson will give a lecture about morphine, the most well-known of the 19th-century medicines, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, at the Jonathan Hager House in Hagers-town's City Park.


The lecture will focus on how morphine was discovered, its use in literature, famous writers who used it and the development of laws regulating its use.

Nelson also will talk about other patent medicines and the story of a Hagerstown woman whose 1902 death was blamed on a cocaine overdose.

The Hager House will display more than 75 patent medicine bottles that contained morphine, opium, cannabis (marijuana) and heroin.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Quackery!" - a lecture about the history of morphine and its use in patent medicines.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 11

WHERE: Jonathan Hager House, 110 Key St., City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: For information, call 301-739-8393.

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