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medicines, patent, duty, liable, stamp, secret, licence, labels, article and duties

MEDICINE STAMPlicand licences are primarily imposed and regulated by four several Stamp Acts of the reign of Geor,re III., of the years 1802, 1803, 1804, and 1812 respectively. A licence, accoihIling to Schedule A of the Act of 1804, must be taken out " by the owner, proprietor, maker, and compounder of, and by every person uttering, vending, or exposing to sale, or keeping ready for sale, any drugs, herbs, pills, waters, essences, tinctures, powders, or other preparations or compositions whatsoever, used or applied, or to be used or applied, externally or internally, as medicines or medica ments, for the prevention, cure, or relief of any disorder or complaint incident to or in anywise affecting the human body, or any packets, boxes, bottles, pots, phials, or other enclosures, with any contents" liable to medicine ditties. This licence is an annual one and subject to a duty of 5s. It continues in force until the 1st September in each year, commencing from the day of its date. A fine of .V20 is incurred by any one who, in any of the above-mentioned ways, deals in medicines liable fo duties without having first obtained the necessary licence. But the licence need not be taken out by a duly licensed auctioneer in respect of sales by auction ; nor by a licensed victualler, confectioner, pastry-cook, fruiterer, or other shop keeper, who only sells artificial or other waters, liable to medicine duties, for actual consumption in his shop. Though such waters are expressly required to bear the duty stamp, it is yet important to notice that mineral waters do not require a stamp, even though they are advertised and recommended as beneficial for some human ai I men t. The stamp.—Appended to the Act of 1812 is a schedule containing a list of five or six hundred medicines and medicinal preparations, and m hich are specified as particularly liable to stamp duty. The list begins with " Adam's solvent' and ends with " Zimmerman's stimulating fluid." At the present dav, however, this catalogue has little final value, for the greater part of the articles enumerated therein have now dropped out of use, whilst, on the other hand, an immense and increasing number of dutiable articles have since been introduced to the public. Of more importance is the clause at the end of the list which indicates in general terms the class of medicine or compound liable to the duty. The form of the article is of little importance, for if it COMCS within the scope of the Act it may be—a pill, powder, lozenge, tincture, potion, cordial, eleetuary, plaister, unguent, salve, ointment, drop, lotion, oil, spirit, medicated herb or water or any kind of chemical or officinal preparation. Nor is it Materiaj wheth'er it is used or applied externally pp iixtgrual)y.

To be liable to the duty certain special conditions must be satisfied. These conditions are : (1) that it is intended to be used or applied for the direct or incidental prevention, cure, or relief of some human disorder or complaint ; and (2) the maker or vendor—(a) has or claims to have an " occult secret or art" for making or preparing it ; or (b) has or claims to have an exclusive right or title to making or preparing it ; or (c) has obtained letters patent for its protection ; or (d) by public notice or advertisement, or by any written papers or handbills, or by any label or words written or printed, affixed to or delivered with any packet, box, bottle, phial, or other enclosure con taining it, holds out the article, or recommends it to the public, as a nostrum or proprietary medicine, or as a specific, "or as beneficial to the prevention, cure, or relief of any distemper, malady, ailment, disorder, or complaint incident to or in anywise affecting the human body." To distribute a price list recommending a specified medicine may alone render that medicine liable to duty. The above are what are popularly, but erroneously, known generally as " patent" medicines. Even though the Act provides for cases where the article is protected by letters patent, it is yet a theoretical principle of patent law that pharmaceutical preparations are not good subject-matter for a valid patent. But notwithstanding this principle it would seem that a patent has been granted for a medicine within the last few years. In the

case of a patented article the inventor is bound to disclose the secret of his invention, but as regards "patent" medicines, popularly so-called, it will be noticed that one of their essential and characteristic features is their secrecy, the mystery with which the manufacturers surround their ingredients and the methods of their preparation. And those that are not secret remedies are proprietary ones. Only a registered chemist can legally sell merely pro prietary and secret remedies—so-called "patent" medicines, which contain poison ; but apparently any one can deal in medicines actually protected by letters patent, even if poison is an ingredient in those medicines. As to the government giving, or assuming to give, any protection to proprietary or secret medicines, a glance at the words on the stamped label will show that the authorities are most _careful to absolutely dissociate themselves from all connection with such exclusive and mysterious preparations. In fact, medicinal drugs which are sold entire and without any mixture or com position with any other drug or ingredient, and so are not secret compositions, are exempt from liability to stamp duty. But this exemption is only available in favour of a vendor who is a registered medical practitioner or chemist, or is licensed to sell dutiable medicines. The exemption also extends to known and approved medicinal mixtures and compounds prepared or sold by registered medical practitioners and chemists, so long as the facts of the preparation or sale do not come within the circumstances set out in (2) above. The rates of the medicine stamp duties appear in the article on the EXCISE. The duty must be paid by the owners or makers of the medicine, or by the original and first vendors ; and so paid before the first sale or delivery thereof, whether wholesale or retail. The persons making or selling the medicine are required to apply for covers or labels to the Secretary, Stamps and Taxes, Inland Revenue, Somerset House, and to deliver a note containing their name and place of abode. These covers or labels are then impressed with marks denoting the respective duties, and must be affixed to the medicines in the manner directed by the authorities ; regulations as to this are delivered to the vendor on taking out his licence. Notice must be given of the place of making or selling medicines, and of any change of place, under a penalty of .E10. And a penalty of 220 is incurred by any one who fraudulently takes off labels after the medicines are sold, or uses such labels a second time ; or buys or sells labels for the purpose of using them a second time. Either buyer or seller may inform against the other, and be himself indemnified. Any one who receives unstamped dutiable medicine from the proprietors or original vendors, and does not return it or inform the authorities, is also liable to a penalty of £20. And the word "medicines" should be written on a package containing twelve or more medicines if the package is being forwarded by a public conveyance to a retail vendor, or is being exported. This is always required to be done when the package is sent by a proprietor, compounder, or original vendor of the medicine, or his agent or employee ; and to the word " medicines" must be added the name of the person sending or exporting the articles. Revenue officers have power to open suspected pay eels and seize unlabelled medicine. A penalty of.E10 is incurred by any one who sells dutiable medicine not properly stamped, labelled, and covered, " being properly and sufficiently pasted, stuck, fastened, or affixed thereto so and in such manner as that the packet, box, bottle, pot, phial, or other enclosure cannot be opened and the contents poured out or taken therefrom without tearing the stamped cover, wrapper, or label, so as to prevent its being made use of again." Proceedings for penalties and forfeitures can be instituted only by the Inland Revenue authorities, or by the Attorney-General, and must be proceeded ith in the police courts. There is an appeal to Quarter Sessions. See POISON.