During the US prohibition era, medicinal liquor was fraudulently exploited in many scams, one doctor cited for writing 475 prescriptions for whiskey in one day. Charles R. Walgreen, the founder of Walgreen’s pharmacies expanded from 20 stores to a staggering 525 during the 1920s.

Prohibition in the United States

A Prohibition-era prescription used by U.S. physicians to prescribe liquor as medicine

Doctors were able to prescribe medicinal alcohol for their patients. After just six months of prohibition, over 15,000 doctors and 57,000 pharmacists received licenses to prescribe or sell medicinal alcohol. According to Gastro Obscura,

Physicians wrote an estimated 11 million prescriptions a year throughout the 1920s, and Prohibition Commissioner John F. Kramer even cited one doctor who wrote 475 prescriptions for whiskey in one day. It wasn’t tough for people to write—and fill—counterfeit subscriptions at pharmacies, either. Naturally, bootleggers bought prescription forms from crooked doctors and mounted widespread scams. In 1931, 400 phar… Continue Reading (16 minute read)

14 thoughts on “During the US prohibition era, medicinal liquor was fraudulently exploited in many scams, one doctor cited for writing 475 prescriptions for whiskey in one day. Charles R. Walgreen, the founder of Walgreen’s pharmacies expanded from 20 stores to a staggering 525 during the 1920s.”

  1. xenidus

    One of my favorite prohibition bits was, what was it called, grape concentrate? Super condensed wine that you would pour into a tub of water to render drinkable wine.

  2. LiliVonStoop9001

    The same thing happened with the war on drugs and medical marijuana prescriptions. Sketchy doctors would hold clinics a few times a years where you pay a $300 “consultation fee’ and leave with a prescription for your new found arthritis.

  3. Choppergold

    This is the mechanism for how Gatsby made his money if anyone is writing a term paper today

  4. NotTheBelt

    “The name’s Charles R. Walgreen! The R stands for Rye.”

  5. I_just_hate_you_all

    Gee it’s like an outright ban and prohibition on anything is useless

  6. absolutfuckingly

    Two facts with one stone.

  7. R3DV1K1NG

    I mean… I feel like that’s just good PR these days. Everyone should know that about Walgreens! If I have to go to a pharmacy other than my small town one, it will definitely be Walgreens over a Rite Aid… Unless it turns out Rite Aid made its money selling medical marijuana to glaucoma patients.

  8. Pillens_burknerkorv

    My moms a doctor. She would prescribe a gallon of some detergent classed alcohol to my dad every year before Christmas

  9. series_hybrid

    This is how Armand Hammer from Occidental petroleum made his first million. Selling “antiseptic” solution through his dad’s pharmacies.

  10. 2020-You-Are-Fired

    Would be nice if I could get booze at Walgreens. I had to walk an extra 2 blocks for booze :/

  11. -----2loves-----

    when I bought my house in 2010, I found an old geritol bottle in the medicine cabinet. 10% alcohol…. I remember hearing the commercials on TV.

  12. thatsAgood1jay

    This is pretty much the back story of The Great Gatsby, also how the Kennedy dynasty started.

  13. Femveratu

    Gee what does THAT remind me of?

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