All products were protected under the previous laws. For the next 5 years a bill that would replace the 1906 revised law was stalled in Congress. It took tremendous effort to pass new standards enforceable by the FDA. In 1937 a Tennessee drug company advertised a new sulfanilamide elixir specifically aimed toward children. The toxic solvent was untested ( per then current laws) and more than 100 people, mostly children, died. It was later determined that the solvent was similar to antifreeze, which is deadly to humans.

I couldn't find it while looking it up in dictionaries. Is it suitable for this text? I mean can you use it in different examples, please?

1 Answer 1


(per then current laws)

means (according to then current laws), meaning that any testing would be according to the standards in place at that time In this case, it seems that testing was not required.

See the definition of per

3) according to (used esp. in business) ⇒ "per your instructions"

then current laws is a separate phrase, meaning laws current at that time.

  • 6
    It might make things clearer if you hyphenate then-current. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 2:19
  • What @WhatRoughBeast wrote or any way of showing what really goes together - brackets, removal of the bold per then...
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 4:33
  • @WhatRoughBeast I wasn't trying to grammar check the original quote, just trying to explain it. Without the source I would not try to explain that.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:09
  • 1
    @user3169 - My point was that the bolding suggests that OP was under the impression that "then" stood alone as a noun. In this phrase, however, "then" is an adverb which modifies "current", and "then-current" would make the connection easier for an English learner to appreciate. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 20:09
  • Concur, this is correctly written "then-current laws". Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 10:10

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