started as a magazine story, inspired by Stephen Fried's wife's frightening reaction to an antibiotic. After he won a National Magazine Award for that article, he expanded his investigation into this book. What he has uncovered is astounding, starting with the fact that, in the U.S. alone, between 45,000 and 200,000 people die annually of reactions to legal drugs (2 to 9 percent of the 2.3 million Americans who die each year) versus the 5,000 to 10,000 who die of illegal drug use. As Fried compulsively investigates what happened to his wife and how reactions like hers were considered statistically insignificant by drug companies and the FDA, he learns things most of us don't want to know about the mechanisms that cause pills to land on pharmacy shelves. Chances are, after reading Bitter Pills
, you'll be much more careful about accepting prescriptions for new medications.
From Publishers Weekly
Five years ago, Fried's wife, after taking an antibiotic for a minor urinary tract infection, developed such side effects as delirium, visual distortions and insomnia, followed by a debilitating manic-depressive illness that the prescription drug apparently triggered. This report on the often lethal hazards of over-the-counter and prescription medications intertwines Fried's personal story of coping with his wife's condition and an informal, scattershot probe into the drug development and approval process, based on interviews with doctors, FDA officials, consumer advocates, neuroscientists, pharmaceutical executives and sales reps, lawyers and pharmacologists. By turns tedious and revealing, his labyrinthine investigation is sprinkled with useful suggestions for revamping U.S. drug testing and regulatory procedures. Freelance writer Fried includes cases involving adverse reactions to heart medicines, anti-inflammatory and psychiatric drugs, skin creams, anti-asthmatics and AIDS medications. He highlights the laxity of safety standards regarding the prescribing of drugs for children and pregnant women. An appendix offers guidelines for consumers on assessing potential drug dangers, and dealing with doctors and pharmacists.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.