How were the amphetamines discovered? Who first marketed these chemicals as medicines? How was the medical profession persuaded to prescribe them – as the first ‘antidepressants’? How many people in the 1950s and 1960s became addicted to the amphetamines so commonly prescribed by their doctors, both as diet pills and antidepressants? And, most important, how come Americans still can't live without their speed, more than 60 years after other countries started banning the drugs as medicines because they cause addiction and psychosis?
On Speed answers these questions. This book is the first history of the amphetamines based on unpublished inside documents from the drug companies, the government officials, and the doctors who made amphetamine into the blockbuster medicine – and disastrously popular, addictive drug of abuse – that defined the twentieth century.
Praise for On Speed:
“Rasmussen documents America’s eighty year love affair with amphetamine and its various permutations. Monumental in scope and research, the book traces the history of this seductive drug’s uses for a myriad of ‘illnesses’ when the true sickness may be inherent to our unique American society. Given our current extraordinary use of this drug, On Speed is an urgent and necessary read.”
- Lawrence Diller, M.D., author of Running on Ritalin
"A magnificent work: measured, thorough, strong on both the technical details and the larger socio-cultural and ethical issues surrounding the development, marketing, and distribution of these dangerous mood-altering drugs. Rasmussen has dug into the medical literature and available archives to find new information on every aspect of the process by which amphetamines were invented, patented, and twinned with various 'disorders.'”
- Robert A. Nye, Ph.D., Horning Professor of History (Emeritus), Oregon State University
"On Speed deftly captures amphetamine's impact on medicine, culture, and society... As the title promises, Rasmussen's account tracks the many manifestations of amphetamine from the 1930s to today in intricate and fascinating detail, from miracle drug to public enemy, a trajectory filled with lessons for the future.”
- John P. Swann, Ph.D. , Historian, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The Author: Nicolas Rasmussen is Associate Professor in History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He holds an M.Phil. in History & Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University, a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Sydney. His work on the history of amphetamine has been recognized with the 2007 Stanley Jackson Prize from the Journal of the History of Medicine and the 2007 J. Worth Estes Prize for history of pharmacology, from the American Association for the History of Medicine.