The book has been divided into twenty-three chapters dealing with drugs
used in some of the popular diseases like constipation, heart and coronary, blood
pressure, allergy, mental disorders, diabetes. anaemias, obesity, cancer and in
others. The action of nicotine, properties of ergot, antihistaminic compounds,
tranquillizing drugs, analgesics, sex hormones and contraceptives, cortisone
and allied substances, antibiotics and sulphonamides were treated separately
in different chapters.
After a brief introduction about the systems of medical treatment prevalent
since the seventeenth century like Homeopathy, Christian Science,
Osteopathy and Chiropratic till we come to the present system of Allopathic
medicine, Prof Burn begins with the present theory on how nicotine acts.
The adverse effect of nicotine in releasing nor-adrenaline from the store in
organs of the body may be responsible for the disorders of the heart and the
blood vessels. The harmful effect due, perhaps to the release of noradrenaline
in smokers cannot be underestimated. In a subseqnent chapter Prof.
Burn discusses the use of modern drugs in heart and coronary diseases He
has stressed the important role played by hexamethenium since 1949 for
the successful treatment of high blood pressure. Dr. Burn discusses in length
on the effect of alcohol on driving. He has emphasized the large part
played by alcohol in causing road accidents which is already known but how
large it is points out "is anybody's guess". He thinks if alchol is considered
a poison, it is a "mild" one, and its effects could readily be overcome by
The alcoholic could be treated, so long as the subject desires to
be cured, for the effcct of the antidote lasts as long as the treatment lasts.
Prof Burn then passes on to a discussion ofrecently introduced tranquillizing
drugs and 'psychic energizers, One of the best drugs in this series is
meprobamate. In man. it is capable of checking emotional responses without
interfering with the skill or with rational behavior. He rightly thinks
that tranqullizers are more widely used than they should be. Many of
these patients, according to him, could be quietened by giving inexpensive
The doctor-patient relationship is an important part of medical practice.
The personality of a doctor may determine the results of the treatment.
He has cited an example where chlorpromazine was given as a clinical trial
in mental cases. The report of the treatment could be divided into four
groups. The first group of doctors were so enthusiastic as to report "This is
it. Now we can throwaway the shock machine." In the majority of physicians
the attitude was calmer, the medicine had "some value." To the
third group the use of chlorpromazine was contrary to their dynamic concept
and they used it much against their wish. The last group contained doctors
who refused to test. It was the natural conclusion that "conscious and
unconscious factors determine how any given individual will report to the
efficacy of a drug". The mentality of the patient is equally important. Results
of treatment of 199 subjects complained of headache was surprising.
One hundred and twenty patients said that sometimes their headache were
cured by a placebo, the tablets which contained lactose only.
An important part of the book deals with sex homones and contraceptions,
cortisone and allied substances and the anti - cancer drugs. Prof.
Burn believes if the next cure of cancer "comes through the invention of a
new drug, it may be that it will cure only one form of cancer and not a
large group". Occasionally patients with cancer succeed in "curing" themselves.
It means the appearance of cancer indicates the failure of protective
mechanism and that the disappearance of the cancer means the recovery
of that mechanism. He has not speculated or indicated what that mechanism
The number of new drugs produced after the last world war is simply
"alarming". The severe competition amongst individual firms resulting in
the introduction of many varieties of drugs and it is true, a part of the money
is spent in research is recoverd from the consumer
and has greater hope for the future rapid progress of
pharmacology. Progress of science
Ultimately it is to be admitted that the con
pay for all this