Carter's Little Liver Pills

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Carter's Little Liver Pills (Carter's Little Pills after 1959) were formulated as a patent medicine by Samuel J. Carter of Erie, Pennsylvania in 1868.[1][2] The active ingredient is bisacodyl.

History[edit]

Carter's trademark was a black crow. By 1880 the business was incorporated as Carter Products. In the late 19th century, the pills were marketed in the UK by American businessman John Morgan Richards.[3]

Carter's Little Liver Pills predated the other available forms of bisacodyl and was a very popular and heavily advertised patent medicine up until the 1960s, spawning a common saying (with variants) in the first half of the 20th Century: "He/She has more _________ than Carter has Little Liver Pills". In 1951 the Federal Trade Commission demanded that company change the name to Carter's Little Pills, since "liver" in the name was deceptive.[2]

The senator Robert Byrd, after winning re-election in 2000, is quoted as saying, "West Virginia has always had four friends, God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, Carter's Liver Pills and Robert C. Byrd."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Henry Hoyt, 96, Dies; Headed Drug Company". New York Times. November 7, 1990. Retrieved 2011-09-24. "Perhaps the company's best-known product was Carter's Little Liver Pills, which had been developed in the 1870s by Dr. Samuel J. Carter, a druggist in Erie, Pa. Mr. Hoyt changed the name to Carter's Little Pills in 1959 after the Federal Trade Commission objected to advertising claims that the pills increase the flow of bile from the liver, and the United States Supreme Court refused to intervene." 
  2. ^ a b "Cut Out the Liver". Time magazine. April 16, 1951. Retrieved 2011-09-24. "One of the most familiar of all trade names was booked for a major operation last week. The Federal Trade Commission told the manufacturers of Carter's Little Liver Pills to cut the word "liver" out of the product name. ..." 
  3. ^ .George Fulford and Victorian Patent Medicine Men: Quack Mercenaries or Smilesian Entrepreneurs? (Lori Loeb, CBMH/BHCM, Volume 16: 1999, pp. 125-45)
  4. ^ "Robert Byrd, Longest-Serving U.S. Senator, Dies At 92". National Public Radio.