These "typical" patent or quack medicines were marketed in very different, and highly distinctive, bottles.
Each brand retained the same basic appearance for more than 100 years.
Those who sold them were called "snake oil salesmen," and usually sold their medicines with a fervent pitch similar to a fire and brimstone religious sermon.
They often accompanied other theatrical and entertainment productions that traveled as a road show from town to town, leaving quickly before the falseness of their medicine was discovered.
The number of internationally marketed quack medicines increased in the later 18th century; the majority of them originated in Britain Dalby's Carminative, Daffy's Elixir and Turlington's Balsam of Life bottles dating to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
However, knowledge of appropriate uses and dosages was limited.
The science-based medicine community has criticized the infiltration of alternative medicine into mainstream academic medicine, education, and publications, accusing institutions of "diverting research time, money, and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology." R. Donnell coined the phrase "quackademic medicine" to describe this attention given to alternative medicine by academia.
For example, Beecham's Pills, which according to the British Medical Association contained in 1909 only aloes, ginger and soap, but claimed to cure 31 medical conditions, were sold until 1998.
British patent medicines lost their dominance in the United States when they were denied access to the Thirteen Colonies markets during the American Revolution, and lost further ground for the same reason during the War of 1812.