Views & Reviews Drug Tales and Other Stories


BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 08 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5337
  1. Robin Ferner, director, West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions, Birmingham City Hospital, Birmingham B18 7QH, UK
  1. R.E.Ferner{at}

Chemical enhancement of performance is not new. In battle, for example, the word “assassin” is believed by many to come from “hashish,” which was used to inspire fanatical devotion in Arab soldiers.1 The Royal Navy might have been encouraged to find Dutch courage by De Ruyter, the 17th century Dutch admiral, who swept the British from the North Sea. Rum, as Churchill said, was one of the great naval traditions, along with sodomy …

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