Signs and Substances: Publicity, Information, and Trust in the Drug Markets in France and Austria, 1880-1950


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation is a comparative study of drug advertising in France and Austria from the rise of the drug industry to the mid-twentieth century. Bringing together the historiography on drugs and the study of print cultures, it shows how, before the time of drug patents, clinical trials, and regulatory agencies, advertising served as the main vehicle of information about drugs. Then, it interprets the rise of compulsory prescriptions and medical insurance as attempts to deal with the issues posed by the free drug market driven by advertising. Finally, it chronicles the resulting shift from consumers to prescribers as the main target of the drug industry’s marketing efforts, which between the two wars laid the foundations of our own way of distributing drugs and information about drugs.