On a spring day in 1960 I found myself on a Dutch train, bound for the German frontier, in the company of an Irish-American physician. Both of us worked for our respective divisions of a venerable drug company with its offices in North Carolina. I myself, newly qualified in medicine and law, was still feeling my way as a novice in the unfamiliar world of pharmaceutical commerce, from the vantage point of a desk in Rotterdam around which the channels of business frothed and flowed. My travelling companion held a medical directorship with the parent company. Now he was on his way to a vital meeting in Germany; I was merely there to speed him on his way to the border. His mission, as he confided in me with some pride, was to secure a licence for North America on a major new pharmaceutical, a revolutionary sleeping remedy. Devoid of unpleasant effects, it could be used with confidence by the ill, the aged, by children, by women in pregnancy. As the train slowed for the border station at Nijmegen, he waxed ever more enthusiastic. I took my leave of him as we changed trains, very prone now to believe that I had been privileged to glimpse the dawn of a wondrous new era. Insomnia, I knew, was a plague of the city masses. Was the solution now indeed so close at hand? Back at my steel desk in Rotterdam, the medicines on which my daily duties centred were more mundane.