This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
No thoroughly modernized physician will limit his prescribing to one class of drugs; but he may unwisely so limit his dispensing. The man who falls into such a double standard in therapeutics should either abandon dispensing or should change his methods. If he is modernized in theory he should also be in practice. I refer to the man who will make his round of calls in the morning, writing up-to-the-minute prescriptions that take time and trouble for the druggist to compound, and yet who, in his afternoon and evening office work, hands out little envelopes of "Migraine" pills, "Anti-neuralgic" tablets, "Coryza," "Digestive," "Antirheumatic," "Tonsillitis," "Fever," and other compressed tablets, either because "the other fellow" dispenses that way or he imagines his patients expect it as the usual and regular thing.
If a physician does not care to dispense what he would prescribe on a blank going to the druggist, he is not treating his patient fairly in dispensing at all, unless it be in emergency.
The practically-minded physician will write many prescriptions calling for hydrochloric acid, aconite, bromides, arsenic preparations, belladonna, buchu, codeine, colchicum, digitalis, ergot, iron salts, mercury, nux vomica, thyroid gland, guaiacol, hexa-methylenamin, salicylic acid, hydrastis, magnesium, sulphate, cod-liver oil, wild cherry, valerian, and a host of other variously assorted drugs and preparations of drugs; but does he dispense these same things?
Doctor, if you don't care to go to the trouble to weigh out ammonium chloride or measure tincture of colchicum seed in your office, be honest enough to say so and to write for these things if your patient needs them.
But perhaps all he needs is a dozen one-tenth grain calomel triturates. If so, well and good; go ahead and dispense them. But if he needs hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and nux vomica, don't hand him down fifty of somebody's "Digestive Tablets." That sort of thing is positively not fair and square, and it is hurting medical practice in your town.
Now tablets have a perfectly proper range both in dispensing and prescribing. If you figure out how often you would prescribe tablets, or alka-loidal granules, or filled capsules, you will know just how often you should dispense them,; and if you note how often you write for tinctures and fluidextracts, you will be able to determine very accurately how often you should dispense them in your office, if you dispense at all. The argument of "convenience" is no argument at all in the face of disease and human need.
It is no harder to dispense tinctures and fluid-extracts in your office than to dispense potassium iodide and other bulk drugs, once you are prepared to do so.
With my work as a writer, editor, and practitioner, one side of my office is fitted with desk, books, and typewriter, and the other with drugs, appliances, and dressings. Half of the drugs on my case are liquids; and yet, for all that and in my office, I write for more than I dispense, as many preparations are bulky, some should be freshly made, and the compounding of many forms requires considerable time.
The especial point I wish to make is that there are few obstacles in the way of the physician dispensing liquid botanic medicaments if he simply arranges for a convenient supply of the drugs, bottles, corks, diluents, flavoring agents, etc. The results in actual practice I can assure you are highly gratifying.