The book, which underwent over a dozen printings and was widely read, led directly to the passage of stronger laws in 1938. Consider these examples:
- Kopp’s Baby Friend, marketed as a soothing agent for babies, secretly contained morphine, and it led to the deaths of nine infants. The government’s remedy at the time was limited to prosecuting mislabeling. Thus, after a $25 fine, Kopp’s reappeared on the market, albeit with a disclosure of morphine as an ingredient.
- Entrepreneurs were free to create “cures” that were crude and dangerous experiments on the consumer. For instance, William J. A. Bailey marketed Radithor, water irradiated with radium, to affluent people. When a prominent patient died, Bailey told the New York Times that, “I have drunk more radium water than any man alive and I never have suffered any ill effects.”
- Quackery abounded in a number of consumer products, including toothpaste (there were radioactive toothpastes too). Pebeco Toothpaste contained potassium chlorate, so much that, “[i]n 1910, a German army officer committed suicide by eating the contents of a tube of Pebeco.”
- Some hair removal products contained the highly toxic thallium acetate, and others promoted hair removal treatment with x-rays.
- The “Hoxsey” anti-cancer treatment, a mixture of herbs promoted by layman Harry Hoxsey, allegedly contained arsenic (the exact ingredients are still unknown). Banned in the U.S. in 1956, one can still obtain the Hoxsey treatment, in Tijuana. To this day, its advocates see a conspiracy among doctors and the government to suppress it.
Throughout these anecdotes, a common theme emerged: individuals could become very affluent by experimenting on the public. When individuals were harmed, the government and victims could do little to remedy the problem because the law primarily was concerned with giving consumers notice of ingredients. If an experiment failed, the entrepreneur could simply move on to some other product. Kallet and Schlink saw the law as a kind of license to kill.
Kallet and Schlink’s basic point: that individuals with no scientific training could mix together chemicals and market it as a nostrum, still is a problem today in the form of nutritional supplements. While such supplements are marketed similarly to drugs, they are not pre-approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nor are they subject to rigorous safety or efficacy testing.
Anyone is free to order vitamins or other chemicals online (vitamins are chemicals; “vitamin C” is a kinder name for ascorbic acid) and mix them into new products for public consumption. They may not make false health claims, nor may they mislabel the concoction. The firm is entrusted with verifying safety and it can go to market with no FDA review.
Frederick J. Schlink founded Consumers Research but following a labor dispute, a rift formed and Arthur Kallet went on to form the very successful Consumers Union.
 Arthur Kallet and Frederick J. Schlink, 100,000,000 guinea pigs: Dangers in everyday foods, drugs, and cosmetics (1933).
 Pieter A. Cohen, Hazards of Hindsight — Monitoring the Safety of Nutritional Supplements, 370 N Engl J Med 1277-1280, April 3, 2014, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1315559
 See generally Norman I. Silber, Test and Protest: The Influence of Consumers Union (1983).