Prescribed: Writing, Filling, Using, and Abusing the Prescription in Modern America

Front Cover
Jeremy A. Greene, Elizabeth Siegel Watkins
Johns Hopkins University Press+ORM, May 14, 2012 - Medical - 477 pages
“Both the health care professional and the consumer will benefit greatly from this topical book . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice

The prescription is more than a piece of paper—or just as likely these days, a piece of digital data. It is uniquely illustrative of the complex relations among the producers, providers, and consumers of medicine in modern America.

The tale of the prescription is one of constant struggles over—and changes in—medical and therapeutic authority. Stakeholders across the biomedical enterprise have alternately upheld and resisted, supported and critiqued, and subverted and transformed the power of the prescription. Who prescribes? What do they prescribe? How do they decide what to prescribe? These questions set a society-wide agenda that changes with the times and profoundly shifts the medical landscape. Examining drugs individually, as classes, and as part of the social geography of health care, contributors to this volume explore the history of prescribing, including over-the-counter contraceptives, the patient’s experience of filling opioid prescriptions, restraints on physician autonomy in prescribing antibiotics, the patient package insert, and other regulatory issues in medicine during postwar America.

The first authoritative look at the history of the prescription itself, Prescribed is a groundbreaking book that subtly explores the politics of therapeutic authority and the relations between knowledge and practice in modern medicine.


List of Abbreviations
Barbiturates Dangerous and Addictive
Antibiotic Prescribing and
The Postwar
Pharmacists and the Patient
Prescription and Nurse Practitioners
The Campaign for OvertheCounter
Opioid Pain Relievers and
Scrip Mills Quaalude
The Sciences
Time Line of Federal Regulations and Rulings Related to

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About the author (2012)

Jeremy A. Greene is associate professor of medicine and the history of medicine and the Elizabeth Treide and A. McGehee Harvey Chair in the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the author of Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease and Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine, both published by Johns Hopkins. Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is a professor, vice chair, and director of graduate studies in the History of Health Sciences Program at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the author of The Estrogen Elixir: A History of Hormone Replacement Therapy in America and On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950–1970, both also published by Johns Hopkins, and the coeditor of Medicating Modern America: Prescription Drugs in History.

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