Nothing to sneeze at

So many are convinced that our health care system is desperately ill, but perhaps mass myopia helps explain the sour mood. Turns out we’ve come very far. In 1836 Nathan Rothschild died from an infection on what was probably a boil. Historian David Landes notes Rothschild was probably the richest man in the world.

And so the man who could buy anything died, of a routine infection easily cured today for anyone who could find his way to a doctor or hospital, even a pharmacy.

There’s another telling anecdote in Amity Shlaes’ fascinating new book book, The Forgotten Man. In 1924 President Coolidge’s son got a blister on his toe while playing tennis on White House grounds. Infection developed and he died. Penicillin would have saved his life. The son of a US president died because he did not have access to something that is not only widely available today, but sometimes even free:

Publix supermarket chain said today it will make seven common prescription antibiotics available for free, joining other major retailers in trying to lure customers to their stores with cheap medications. The oral antibiotics, representing the most commonly filled at the chain’s pharmacies, will be available at no cost to anyone with a prescription as often as they need them, Publix CEO Charlie Jenkins Jr. said. Fourteen-day supplies of the seven drugs will be available at all 684 of the chain’s pharmacies in five Southern states. The prescription antibiotics available under the program are amoxicillin, cephalexin, penicillin VK, erythromycin, ampicillin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, and ciprofoxacin.

More here. Related: We’re all supermen now