The Price of the Drugs in Rome: Economy and Pharmacy from 1700 till 1870

François Lederman


Since the Middle Ages pharmacists had played an important role as producers and retailers of drugs, many of the them exotic and precious. Proof is the resignation of the church of San Lorenzo by Martin V to the guild of apothecaries. 100 years later, Pope Clemens VII introduced the priciple of drug taxes. The first roman drug tax  was published in 1870, these principles had remained the same, only to be interrupted by the French occupation at the beginning of the 19th century. An analysis of the drug prices shows the general development of drug costs between 1700 and 1854, the prices and the drug trade in particular being especially dependent on strong political tendencies. The introduction of new drugs and the omission of old ones had a remarkable effect on the costs, a fact which is represented by a study about the development of the prices comparing different drug groups. A further comparison between the wages and the cost of living explaines why mainly members of the higher social classes could afford to buy drugs in pharmacies. This economical study of taxes emphasises the fact that drugs, in regard to their development in prices, can hardly be compared to other goods.


Key words: Pharmacy in Rome - List of prices - Prices of drugs 

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