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The Paffard Years

Pharmacy and Health Care
The first known synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) or Aspirin occurred late in the 19th century in the labs of the German Bayer company and was first marketed by it in 1891. “Aspirin” still remains a registered trade name of Bayer in some countries, like Canada, even though it has become a common generic term for ASA internationally.

Large pharmaceutical manufacturing companies also came into there own in North America, especially the USA, late in the 19th and early in the 20th century, but most achieved their full growth only during and after World War II. Many of those companies evolved out of individual community pharmacy practices and really thrived eventually with major advances in science and technology as it was applied by those companies to their research as well as their manufacturing and marketing procedures. Indeed, in the early days of North American pharmacy, before major controls imposed by governments, some pharmacists operated community pharmacies that also involved manufacturing and wholesaling functions to sell not only locally but to ship wagon loads of supplies to developing frontier areas.

Among the early examples would be the familiar Parke-Davis company founded in 1866 by Harvey C. Parke and George S. Davis. Others, like Eli Lilly, followed in 1876. Further examples would be community pharmacists John and Frank Wyeth, as well as Sharpe and Dohme. There were also some companies that evolved out of medical practices, like those of Dr. E.R. Squibb, interested in quality control and standardization. Dr. Upjohn’s company grew out of its development of reliably dissolving tablets. The Henry K. Wampole Company, founded in the USA in 1872, expanded into Canada in 1893, but survives today more than a century later as a subsidiary of Novopharm, one of the earliest and major Canadian manufacturers of generic drugs.

On the other hand, the age of the proprietary or patent or non-prescription remedies also accelerated during the mid to late 1800’s, particularly in the USA. That movement likely grew out of the custom of many pharmacists to have books of formulas for many household needs, including common remedies, but also veterinary products, cooking supplies (such as curry powder), dyes, or for other items such as stove polish, mouse poison, or turpentine. Some of these items, such as curry powder, varied with customers, so the early prescription records of the Apothecary from about 1830 on contain the names of several residents, particularly military personnel, who had their own formulas for curry powder to be prepared by the pharmacist or his apprentice.

In time, the owners of some of these formulas realized that with some advertising they could create a demand beyond the confines of their own store's immediate trading area. They often advertised by means of colorful trading cards or in newspapers as their circulations grew. By century's end, the largest of these household medications were financially able to promote their products nationally via big city dailies and nationally circulated magazines.

Typically, the claims in such advertisements wherever they appeared, including on the remedy containers themselves, made sweeping claims about their curative powers. Usually, this was without any medical or scientific proof to support them.

One of the earliest remedies to gain large sales volume through public promotion in the 1850's was a nostrum known as Hostetter's Bitters. It became very popular among the troops during the US Civil War in the early 1860's. Others to achieve imposing sales during the Paffard years were: Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound (first marketed in 1875), Ayer's Cherry Pectoral, Burdock Blood Bitters, Perry Davis’s Pain Killer, and Radway's Ready Relief. The inventory of such remedies gradually expanded over the nearly half a century that Henry Paffard operated the pharmacy. Besides appealing to the public, as the makers of these remedies did, some chose to aim their message at the doctor rather than the patient and request that he prescribe their products where indicated.

In sharp contrast to all of the chicanery associated with some of the preceding developments were certain significant professional developments during the Paffard period. Thus, 1852, when he first assumed ownership of the Harvey practice, witnessed the founding of the American Pharmaceutical Association and the passage of the first British Pharmacy Act. The 1860’s saw the appearance of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal and the Canadian Pharmaceutical Society, which soon evolved into the Ontario College of Pharmacy (now Pharmacists) (OCP), with the Canadian Pharmaceutical (now Pharmacists’) Association not to emerge until 1907, a decade after Paffard retired from active practice.

However, the OCP achieved official status--with the first Ontario Pharmacy Act of 1871--to serve as a licensing body, professional association, and operate a school of pharmacy. The 1870’s also saw Canada’s first food and drug act, based heavily on its British counterpart; but, both long suffered from inadequate staff and lack of sufficient support to enforce the misdemeanors under the legislation. In the 1880’s the OCP opened its school, (seen here in an architect’s sketch) initially with a three-month course following a four-year apprenticeship and ending with an OCP diploma to practice.

However, by the early 1890s, and Paffard’s last decade at the Apothecary, the University of Toronto granted optional Bachelor of Pharmacy (Phm.B.) degrees to all OCP diplomates who also sat University examinations. It would, however, be 30 years before the compulsory 2-year Phm.B. degree program became the minimum requirement, but with the pre-admission apprenticeship requirement maintained until 1948.