Views & Reviews Drug Tales and Other Stories


BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 20 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2859
  1. Robin Ferner, director, West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions, Birmingham City Hospital, Birmingham B18 7QH
  1. R.E.Ferner{at}

Gavrilo Princip’s assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 led to the first world war, the deaths of 15 million people, and the Venereal Disease Act 1917 (which among other things prohibited the advertising of cures for syphilis).

It was also indirectly responsible for the thalidomide disaster that maimed several thousand British children between 1958 and 1961.

War was announced on the day the Select Committee on Patent Medicines, set up in 1912, published its findings in its 1914 report: “For …

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