Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

Ben Goldacre. FSG/Faber and Faber, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8654-7800-8
In this searing exposé of the pharmaceutical industry, physician and journalist Goldacre (Bad Science) uncovers a cesspool of corrupt practices designed to sell useless ordangerous drugs to an unsuspecting public. His main focus is the distortion of the science on which evidence-based medicine relies: drug companies, he argues, deploy deliberately biased clinical trials and twisted statistics to exaggerate their drugs’ benefits, while suppressing countless studies that show negative results or deadly side effects. Big Pharma’s malign influence doesn’t stop there, he contends; doctors’ prescribing practices are determined not by patients’ needs but by the insidious bribes and blandishments of sales representatives, the industry’s ubiquitous "educational" programs, and fake research articles, journals, and even textbooks signed by independent academics but authored by industry-hired ghost writers. Goldacre’s indictment fingers many culprits—profit-hungry industry executives, lax regulatory agencies that collude in hiding crucial information from the public, and complaisant journal editors and university officials who put their imprimatur on blatant misconduct. Drawing on a wealth of research but writing squarely for laypeople, Goldacre conveys complicated scientific, medical, and ethical issues in simple, clear, plainspoken language that pulls no punches. The result is a smart, infuriating diagnosis of the rotten heart of the medical-industrial complex. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, the Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (Jan. 8)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 02/05/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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