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The initial purposes of regulation of medicines in England, and latterly in the United Kingdom, were principally to raise government revenue, to discourage murder by poisoning, and to regulate the activities of pharmacists. It was only much later that regulators sought to ensure that medicines were of good quality, reasonably safe, and at least somewhat effective, and to curtail misuse of drugs. Here we survey the history of the regulation of medicines and poisons in England from the perspective of clinicians with an interest in therapeutics.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of clinical pharmacology

Publication Date



School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.