A prescription ordering service will often receive thousands of prescriptions a day, many of which are for relatively common, well-known and straightforward medications, salves and treatments that a doctor has chosen with the aid of decades of evidence of their safety and efficacy.

Medical knowledge being an ever-evolving field, however, there have been some quite considerable changes in the types of medication that are provided to help treat disease, with some previously common treatments becoming less favourable as safer and better alternatives come to light.

However, even some of these formerly used medicines will occasionally see used in the treatment of rare diseases or when there is an intolerance to the frontline medication. A recent example was the use of medical cannabis oil to help treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy.

In some cases, there are medicines that, whilst previously prescribed, will almost certainly never be used again for the treatment of disease.



At one point, the deliberate infection of people suffering from syphilis with the deadly disease malaria was genuinely seen as revolutionary.

Indeed in 1927, Julius Wagner-Jauregg genuinely received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this treatment, one that for obvious reasons is not used anymore.

The reasoning at the time is that the psychosis caused by neural syphilis could be treated by deliberately inducing a fever that would kill the bacteria, as long as it did not kill the patient.

It was briefly considered as a treatment for HIV in the late 1980s by some very speculative early reports, although no evidence has surfaced that it was attempted even in a laboratory.


Radium Medicine

In 1898, Marie Curie would discover radium as well as coining the term radioactivity, and it would not be long before radiation would become a key part of the medical world.

However, before the dangers of radiation were well-known, many products were infused with radium and other radioactive materials and sold as a cure-all.

The most infamous of these was Radithor, a radioactive mineral water sold as a multipurpose elixer, primarily marketed as an aphrodisiac. However, the death of a young industrialist from radiation poisoning largely consigned this to the history books.

Radiation is now used in a much more targeted way to destroy cancerous tissue.

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