19 JULY 1957, Page 7

AM GLAD to see that several doctors have taken up

the subject of tranquillisers, at the British Medical Association's meeting; for if ever the public were being defrauded by any new racket, this is it. The British Medical Journal this week contains a report of an experiment done under ingeniously controlled conditions to test the effect of certain drugs; the patients not knowing what drug they were getting, or even whether they were getting a drug at all—some of the pills were place- bos. The results were significant; only one of the drugs tested came out with any credit, and most of them were failures, as far as the patients were concerned. A similar experiment with many of the other 'tranquillisers' would show interesting results; already it seems certain that most of the successes claimed by manufacturers in 'tranquil- lising' patients could equally be claimed (as one doctor suggested) by the manufacturers of whisky. Yet whisky is heavily taxed, while drugs are distributed free at the taxpayers' expense. And then there is the risk of side effects; even the most reputable drugs are apt in a few cases to produce disquieting and sometimes dan- gerous symptoms in patients who happen to be intolerant to them. The subject is one that could do with further investigation : but no investiga- tion is needed to show that the regulations con- cerning the distribution and use of 'tranquillizers' are ridiculously lax.