cover image Pharmageddon


David Healy. Univ. of California, $39.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-520-27098-5

“We are quite literally taking drugs to save the lives of companies who have a greater interest in the vitality of the diseases they market drugs for than in our well-being,” argues British psychiatrist Healy (Let Them Eat Prozac) in this scathing critique of the $900 billion global pharmaceutical industry. Healy chronicles the rise of blockbuster drugs like Prozac and Vioxx and how drug companies hyped them while downplaying their hazards. He takes particular aim at the outsourcing to private companies of clinical drug trials, once the domain of the National Institutes of Health and academics and now a $30 billion industry. He is particularly incisive on how the drug industry distorts medical care by, say, encouraging the use of statins like Lipitor rather than advising patients to lose weight. But he seems contrarian in opposing chronic disease management because it provides drug companies the opportunity for long-term sales of drugs that manage, but do not cure, a condition. Still, Healy’s contrarian streak and sharpness make this a disturbing, well-documented indictment that echoes many others in recent years, and one worth heeding. Agent: Beverly Slopen, Beverly Slopen Literary Agency (Canada). (Mar.)