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Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients [Hardcover]

by Ben Goldacre
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 5, 2013 0865478007 978-0865478008 Reprint
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.

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Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients + Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the follow-up to his popular Bad Science (2010), British medical doctor Goldacre reveals how pharmaceutical companies mislead doctors and hurt patients. They “sponsor” trials, which tend to yield favorable results, while negative results often remain unreported. He also reports that drug companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as on researching and developing new drugs. Unfortunately for U.S. readers, he focuses largely on the UK, but ghost authorship of studies and “continuing medical education” boondoggle trips for doctors are problematic everywhere, and he does refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on multiple occasions. And everyone, everywhere should feel unsettled by his discovery that pharmaceutical companies funnel $10 million to $20 million a year to such major medical journals as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Not surprisingly, he notes, studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry are that much more likely to get published in these influential journals. Goldacre’s essential exposé will prompt readers to ask more questions before automatically popping a doctor-prescribed pill. --Karen Springen

From Bookforum

Bad Pharma is surely the most comprehensive account to date of how the pharmaceutical industry games the regulatory process. Still, Bad Pharma is short on practical prescriptions for reform, and it is not until the last ten pages that Goldacre acknowledges that drug companies are manufacturing products that save lives and alleviate pain for billions of people. —Chris Wilson

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Reprint edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865478007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478008
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 3.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another killer blow from the pen of Dr. Goldacre September 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
It is a common claim among alt med cranks that skeptics are only critical of alternative medicine. This is not and has never been true - most of Bad Science is about "Big Pharma" and its shenanigans, but this latest book by Ben Goldacre goes a lot further.

In "Bad Pharma" you will read about the ways in which vested interests bamboozle us and our doctors, whether by accident or design. You will find out why the benefits of most medicines are overstated, and why the systematic review is incredibly important. You will become, in short order, very angry indeed, and then you will be told what you can do about that anger - whether you are a patient or a doctor.

Goldacre's style is engaging and informal, and he is a practising doctor. The books include anecdotes about how he himself has unknowingly prescribed drugs which are not just ineffective, but worse than doing nothing - despite having read the research evidence with a particularly critical eye. All the data and references are there if you need them but they don't derail the narrative, so the book functions both as a reference and as an eminently readable story.

This is my pick for best book of the year so far, and one of the most important books most of us will have read. This is about your health. Get informed, get angry and get active!
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tough reality check on drug companies and legislation October 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bad Pharma highlights serious issues with the way the pharmaceutical industry works today. In the book Ben highlights the problems with the industry from several angles, how the tests can be tweaked, how negative tests are not published, how you can make a neutral test appear positive by sub-dividing the goals and then emphasize the fluke positive one. He also shows how the medical journals are part of the problem and the issue with ghost written articles. He shows the problems with the regulatory side as well, for example the European Medicines Agency, their lack of transparency, and how they have effectively blocked access to critical data for researchers. All through the book Ben makes use of well documented examples, and all the issues highlighted are well documented and exemplified.

The book is written in an easy to access language, and so it reads well. He does repeat himself a bit, so one more round of editing and cleanup before release would probably have been a good idea. Some readers on amazon.co.uk have criticised this, but I don't see it as an issue.

You don't need to have a degree in medicine or a higher degree in general to understand the issues Ben highlights.

Ben Goldacre runs the Bad Science website (badscience dot net) and has previously written the book Bad Science. Where Bad Science was an attack on quackery and pseudo science, and his website to a large degree has dealt with the same topics, this book is a critical look at the pharmaceutical industry. As such it ought to silence those that have attacked Ben Goldacre for being in the pockets of the Pharmaceutical industry over time.

Ben Goldacre has done society a big favour by writing this book. I definitely recommend reading it if you want to understand more about how US and European health care works and what can be done to improve it in the future.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extensive, well-written and scientific. October 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ben Goldacre fills a vitally important niche in popular science literature. His books serve as a way of explaining highly technical and complex medical issues in language that is easily understood and with emphasis and focus that makes the seriousness of the issues at hand impossible to ignore.

Goldacre also holds himself to a far higher standard of scientific excellence than the groups he is critiquing, exhaustively referencing, justifying and clarifying his points so that there is no doubt of the accuracy of his claims.

This book sinks a knife into the heart of the nonsense and pseudo-science that is far too often espoused by the pharmaceutical industry and tacitly endorsed by overawed journalists and cowed academics.

If you want to know why the drugs are you taking sometimes don't work and often make you ill then you need to read this book.

And any medical practitioner, academic or researcher who does not read this book should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

It is absolutely excellent.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Upton Sinclair of Pharma.... February 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover
Dr Goldacre is an Epidemiologist, as am I. Or was. I changed fields because I saw examples, first hand, of what Dr Goldacre exposes in his book. Proper clinical trials are very difficult and expensive to do. You get obvious bad data in the raw observations, sample sizes are less than you want. Your power calculation on the sample size you have and the results you got suggest your P-value is bogus. You have to make judgements in some very grey areas. Every day.

You work with research MDs that won't have a career if they don't get results. As an Epidemiologist you work part time on numerous small grants that don't add up to an adequate salary, so many of us do (did) statistical work for drug company trials. You don't get recommended for further consulting work if you are "overly rigorous", shall we say.

In the late 70's new FDA requirements caused everyone to step up their game, but at increasing expense to doing trials. To contains costs, 30 years later, trials are now outsourced to about a half dozen separate specialist companies each doing one part of the study. A Clinical program management company, a data staging company, various companies that do the raw analysis (e.g. reading of CAT, MRI data), a company that prepares the results according to FDA submission requirements. All of them competing for the next contract, and competing on cost.

You can see where this is going....

I never witnessed any truly unethical behavior. There is no evil here. Personally, I chose to go into the software industry to avoid having to make daily ethical decisions. Dr. Goldacre wrote the book that many Epidemiologists could write. Hats off to him for actually doing it.

This ex-Epidemiologist only takes generic drugs, because the only good clinical trial is done on the general public, and after it comes off-patent, it's been around long enough to know it's efficacy and side effects.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever taken medication?
If you've ever taken a prescription medication,please read this book. It is one ne of several, including Overdosed America, that might save your life at some point.
Published 9 days ago by dcc
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Pharma
Arrived instantly to my Kindle. Ben Goldacre describes the way research is hidden if the pharmaceutical company doesn't like the results. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Letamaet
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK.
Guess this is a good book if you need a source for a term paper. I didn't expect Goldacre to be another Bill Woodward, but this is not an easy read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. W. Grace
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not necessarily gospel about Big Pharma
Many reviewers here have praised this book. And Dr. Goldacre makes some valid and important points about the quality of clinical research with new medications. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading!
This book won't help you sleep; it will make you angry and worried. But it should! Goldacre does us all a service by presenting, in a clear and convincing way, evidence that shows... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Paul M. Brinich
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone must read this book
Ben Goldacre has done the seemingly impossible and brought an amazing critique of pharmaceutical company practices to a lay audience.
Published 2 months ago by Fiona Cram
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book
This book explains what is going on behind the scenes of medicine and pharmacology and explains how in many cases the need/desire to make a profit from drugs undermines the truth... Read more
Published 3 months ago by painsy
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will piss you off.
Prepare to read about how the promising new drugs you and your loved ones have been prescribed are backed by misleading evidence. Read more
Published 3 months ago by leapofawesome
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas gift
Don't like the idea that I have to write at least 20 words in the comment section. Wastes my time.
Published 3 months ago by Darla Mae
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading
This important piece of surgically researched work should be required reading for anyone. We all use drugs and we are all in this together.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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