‘As honest as business permits’
Medical practitioners, birth control clinics and contraceptive efficacy
in The business of birth control
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This chapter highlights the tensions surrounding the increasing competitive nature of birth control clinic supply, particularly after 1935 with the National Birth Control Association’s introduction of standardised contraceptive testing with which the Association sought to define ‘reliable’ contraceptives. Such clinical tests and laboratory tests did not medicalise and standardise contraceptives until after the Second World War, but their introduction nonetheless encouraged competition among a large number of firms and disrupted Lambert’s monopoly of clinic supply. Yet, before the 1950s, agreed contraceptive standards were still in flux and the Association considered the products of certain firms reliable even when they failed the tests. Much of this related to the acceptance of lower standards during the Second World War, but it also impinged on longstanding clinical experience and the fact that clinicians continued to rely on firms who had earned their trust. Price and quality only began to override firm goodwill and brand loyalty in the 1950s.

The business of birth control

Contraception and commerce in Britain before the sexual revolution

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