Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
What an eye-opener! I had no preconceived idea that the massive money machine behind modern pharmaceutical companies has patients as its primary concern, but the extent to which drug trials are doctored (excuse the pun) and the amount of valuable trial data that is withheld from the public is quite astonishing. I wasn’t completely surprised by the descriptions of lavish kick-backs discreetly handed down to doctors from pharmaceutical companies as a reward for prescribing their drugs, but some of the conflicts of interest when it comes to ghost writing and the use of academics by drug companies to write seemingly independent and unbiased reports in medical journals was astonishing. Not only was this a great read, but I’m definitely going to scrutinize some of the “freebies” given to me by my doctor next time I visit. I’ll also be doing a lot of my own research should I ever be unfortunate enough to wind up on a program of prescription medicine. Right up there with Pushed as one of my top books when it comes to educating oneself about health and well being.
Amazon: We like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence and the results of fair testing and clinical trials. In reality, those tests and trials are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors who write prescriptions for everything from antidepressants to cancer drugs to heart medication are familiar with the research literature about a drug, when in reality much of the research is hidden from them by drug companies. We like to imagine that doctors are impartially educated, when in reality much of their education is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. We like to imagine that regulators have some code of ethics and let only effective drugs onto the market, when in reality they approve useless drugs, with data on side effects casually withheld from doctors and patients. All these problems have been shielded from public scrutiny because they’re too complex to capture in a sound bite. But Ben Goldacre shows that the true scale of this murderous disaster fully reveals itself only when the details are untangled. He believes we should all be able to understand precisely how data manipulation works and how research misconduct in the medical industry affects us on a global scale. With Goldacre’s characteristic flair and a forensic attention to detail, Bad Pharma reveals a shockingly broken system and calls for regulation. This is the pharmaceutical industry as it has never been seen before.