5 JUNE 1880, Page 3

The British Medical Journal calls attention to a very remark-

able commercial " operation " said to be now going on. An Anglo-American Syndicate, controlling very large funds, is pur- chasing all the medicinal opium in the world.. About 4,000 cases are known to be in existence, of which the Syndicate have bought half; and they intend to buy the coming short crop from Turkey, estimated at only 3,000 cases more. As opium is an article of prime necessity in medicine, and is consumed at the rate of 6,000 cases a year, they calculate on raising the price from 18s. a pound to 48s., and indeed have raised it already in New York to 26s. The profit, if they succeed, will be enormous ; but they run one or two serious risks, of which one is that a high price may check the consumption of laudanum for purposes other than medicine, and another is that science may utilise Indian opium. That drug is at present too refined and too weak in narcotic properties for medicine; but if the doctors want it, a second and much stronger extract could be made and forwarded to Europe. The trick, however, is constantly played with quinine, and occasion- ally succeeds, the speculators getting double prices.