Skip to main content

Social Sciences

Tax and Quacks

1 October 2011 - 30 September 2013

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Chantal Stebbings

Funding awarded: £ 100,172

Sponsor(s): Wellcome Trust

About the research

This interdisciplinary research project examines the historical impact of taxation on the development of pharmacy during the long nineteenth century. It investigates the tensions and challenges existing between pharmacy and the tax organs of the state. It assesses the impact of tax law on quacks or unqualified practitioners, how it promoted or inhibited the professionalization of chemists and druggists in transforming them from retailers to professionals, and its effect on the quality control of medicines. It assesses the relationship between the fiscal policies of the state and medical imperatives. In so doing this research promotes the new fiscal sociology and provides a major and novel perspective on an important aspect of the dynamic discipline of medical history

The key goals are:

  • to analyse and assess the effectiveness of the law taxing proprietary medicines made and sold by quacks or unqualified entrepreneurs;
  • to demonstrate that this tax regime was a powerful influence in the professionalization of chemists and druggists;
  • to assess the effect of the tax regime on the quality of medicines and the longer term evolution of therapeutic drugs;
  • to disseminate the results in a major monograph entitled Tax and Quacks.