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Here's an interesting page on pharmacovigilance that starts at 1780 B.C. and continues to the 1970's. (Tip o' the hat to Anthony Cox.) It's still a work in progress, but it's fascinating reading. For those of us complaining about the current malpractice crisis, we might want to remember this excerpt from the Code of Hammurabi: "If a physician make a large incision with the operating knife, and kill him, or open a tumor with the operating knife, and cut out the eye, his hands shall be cut off." Or this one, from the 10th century: "Whosoever shall have or sell any poison or noxious drug not useful or necessary to his art, let him be hanged." Yikes.