One of visitors’ favorite exhibits at the Melnick Medical Museum is about Quack medicine. It features odd devices and medicines that were sold directly to customers to use in their homes. The creators or “doctors” of these items exist on the fringes of traditional medicine and the law, and are often involved in conscious acts of deception. Most of the medicines and devices made outrageous claims to cure cancer, baldness, neuralgia, or a variety of bodily weaknesses.
A new movie is in the works about one of these “doctors”- John Brinkley, who was selling a cure for male impotence in the 1930s. It follows his story, detailing his increasing use of promotional materials including direct mailings and radio advertising. You can find a Daily Beast article about the story here.