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on February 19, 2014
Great book. It was required for my psychopharmacology class. Interesting read for information on the business of prescriptions . I recommend
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on November 12, 2013
After reading this book, I have to ask what we, as consumers, can do about it. It seems the only possible answer is to refuse to buy in to the marketing. Think for yourself, educate yourself, stop assuming you are sick and must get these pills. If the consumer stopped pouring money into these schemes, the market for the pills/drugs would dry up. I applaud medical practitioners who say NO to big pharma and treat people instead of illness.

I believe the whole "modern medical" system is due for a crash very very soon. It cannot continue the way it has for very much longer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 16, 2013
Melody Peterson "wrote about the pharmaceutical industry for four years a a reporter for The New York Times. In 1997 her investigative reporting won a Gerald Loeb Award, one of the highest honors in business journalism." She wrote in the introduction to this 1998 book, "This is a book about a great transformation in the prescription drug industry over the last twenty-five years. Once the most successful pharmaceutical companies were those with the brightest scientists seaching for cures. Now the most profitable and powerful drugmakers are those with the most creative and aggressive marketers. The drug companies have become marketing machines, selling antidepressants like Paxil, pain pills like Celebrex, and heart medications like Lipitor with the same methods that Coca-Cola uses to sell Sprite and Procter & Gamble uses to sell Tide. SELLING prescription drugs---rather than DISCOVERING them---has become the pharmaceutical industry's obsession." (Pg. 4) She adds, "this book is about how America's for-profit medical system... has failed..." (Pg. 11)

She observes, "While other state employees were banned by law from accepting gifts valued at more than three dollars from any industry, the state-employed physicians were accepting tens of thousands of dollars form companies making drugs and medical devices. The drugmakers paid the academic physicians to give speeches about their products, to sit on their advisory boards, and to work for them as 'consultants' ... the public's health was no longer the only thing on the minds of the academic physicians in Iowa or at other teaching hospitals across the country." (Pg. 71)

She notes, "the acting [FDA] commissioner ... announced that the agency had decided to loosen its drug-advertising restrictions and pave the way for a massive shift in the marketing of drugs from print advertising to the more powerful medium of television. What had held the drug companies back from television ads was the requirement that they provide consumers with detailed information regarding a medicine's possible risks. For most drugs, the information requires several typewritten pages. Instead, under the FDA's new rules, the companies were now free to provide simply a few of the drugs' more common risks, along with a toll-free phone number where the curious could find out more." (Pg. 152)

She also reports, "As the drug companies concentrated on selling daily medications to treat chronic conditions and on lifestyle pills like Viagra, some abandoned efforts to discover products like antibiotics and vaccines that actually saved lives but were taken just once or for brief periods... These decisions affected all the world's populations, including Americans who had so overused the available antibiotics that doctors were finding more and more cases where the drugs no longer worked against lethal infections. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from infections that were once easily remedied with an antibiotic." (Pg. 161)

She says, "Some scientists have pointed out that only a fraction of present-day medical interventions... are supported by sound scientific evidence." (Pg. 206) She adds, "The government does not know how many Americans die every year in accidents caused by drivers impaired by prescription drugs... medications have long been causing thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year and killing innocent people in their wake." (Pg. 286-287)

She concludes, "Few Americans understand they are spending so much on medical care... The true financial burden of health care is hidden. Most people have health insurance paid for by an employer... They don't realize how many thousands of dollars of their taxes are funneled to the medical system... At the same time, medical spending is concentrated with the minority of Americans suffering from chronic or serious illnesses, even though everyone pitches in to pay the fast-rising cost." (Pg. 316)

This is a book that's almost CHILLING in its information; it will be of great interest to anyone studying modern medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
Create a disease and then market the medicine. It's all about marketing. Marketers - not scientists rule! The first created disease was GERD. It was created by Glaxo along with its solution ranitidine in 1981. By 1988 Zantac (ranitidine) was the biggest selling prescription drug in the world. Melody Peterson in this very interesting book talks about this on pages 134-141 (Chapter 5).

She actually begins the story with the created disease "overactive bladder" and its solution - Detrol which began in 1999. This idea of a created disease comes directly from a presentation slide presented by Neil Wolf (VP of Pharmacia bought out by Pfizer in 2002) at a large Pharmaceutical Marketing Global Summit held in Philadelphia in 2003.The screen reads "Positioning Detrol ( Creating a Disease)" ( page 16).

To learn more, read the book.
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on March 28, 2013
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on March 24, 2013
I have always been rather suspicious about all the medication being pushed and this book confirms it. Medicine is a wonderful necessary thing with serious illness but too many people want a pill for any hiccup in their life. I have been telling all my friends about this book and urging them to read it - yes, even my friends who are or have made a very good living as a drug rep.
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on February 12, 2013
One of the most comprehensive presentations of this vital subject ever. Melody Petersen, award winning investigative journalist for the New York Times, has written the most detailed, revelatory history of the modern pharmaceutical industry in our times. Many books prepared us for this one, but this is the distillation of everything before. Prescription drugs are now marketed in every single corner of American society -- from the Cartoon Network to nursing homes to the nightly news.

The detailed presentation of her decade or more of research into the pharmaceutical industry comes through as personal, stirring, intimate narratives about the history and the personal motivations -- of both drug sellers and drug takers -- across the country and around the world. Her childhood in Iowa, and her revisiting her home state as part of her study of the "Pharmaceutical Phenomenon in America" is very impassioned, with the stories of lives changed by medications creating a compelling narrative drive. Highly recommended! It's a book that clinicians and patients with real-life experience in modern American medicine will never forget.

-- Dr. Scott Cuthbert, author of Applied Kinesiology Essentials: The Missing Link in Health Care (2013), and Applied Kinesiology: Clinical Techniques for Lower Body Dysfunctions (2013).
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on September 10, 2012
A must read for anyone who is in the healthcare field, or who may be a healthcare consumer at some point....EVERYONE needs to know what is going on here!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
The veil was lifted on the drug industry's antics long ago, but Petersen's book is helpful for encapsulating the role that very clever marketing plays. While the inside information from multiple shamed drug companies is instructive, the book is aggressively one-sided in its critique. Citations are provided to back up the facts, but some of them seem specious. An extrapolated estimation of how many deaths are caused by prescriptions is discussed as if it represents real numbers, not a hypothesis. Claiming that ten percent of dementias have been found to be drug-induced minimizes a very real syndrome and could influence people to throw away their loved ones' drugs that may be helping them stave off a more rapid decline in Alzheimer's. Read this sensationalistic passage: "In 1980 a 65-year-old American woman could be comforted by the fact that her expected life span was longer than that of her contemporaries living almost anywhere else in the world...... By 2002, in a list of the longevity in 30 nations, 65-year-old American women came in 17th." OK - since this is journalistic work, why not put where 65-year-old women ranked in 1980? It's "longer than almost anywhere else..." but no numeric location to prove the point. Was it first or second place? 16th? This is spin. I agree that the meds probably have decreased our lifespan, but this writing style makes me doubt the objectivity of the writer.

In the end, Ms. Petersen's passionate calls for regulation to put an end to problems with Big Pharma may rally the troops, but they fall flat. For example, there are already laws in place to prevent kick-backs and to prevent commerce between Medicare providers. The legal industry, no paragon of charity,is primarily interested in pursuing qui tam actions, which are lawsuits on behalf of whistleblowers from which they get a significant cut of the monetary penalty imposed by the government. There's no money to be made enforcing the anti-kickback or Stark laws; these would have to be litigated by the government, and I doubt state and federal governments are eager to start throwing doctors in jail.

When people read this and get worked up about how the evil drug companies are making money, they need to remember that this is what you get when you have a capitalistic system of healthcare. The pharmaceutical companies, doctors, pharmacies, R&D departments of universities, etc. are not simply greedy. They're human. Americans ARE the most over-medicated country on earth, with the most ill effects from our medications, paying the most for healthcare from our collective prosperity; and you may want to step back and ask yourself why.

Was it worthwhile to read? I recommend Marcia Angell's book for a more balanced take on the devices employed by Big Pharma, but I did learn a lot about the marketing. After reading this book, I cast a more critical eye on news programs about the latest and greatest. The other day a perky Jamie Lee Curtis announced from my TV, "If you think a little irregularity is no big deal, think again." I thought - again - Oh no, another pill... but she is shilling for a yogurt company! From reading Our Daily Meds I am savvy to the existence of such ad firms as one called IntraMed, a division of the advertising behemoth WPP, which specialize in developing marketing plans for pharmaceutical companies, in many cases even writing "studies" for medical journals to dupe doctors into thinking the drugs have real science behind them. I give those marketers credit for being brilliant in their schemes; clearly they've found their next golden goose in the supplement industry, which I hope will soon be treated to its own journalistic scrutiny. (Tangent: By the way, Jamie Lee, a little irregularity is not a big deal. Also, why don't you just say "Can't poo"? For years I had no idea what the word irregularity was referring to. Now that I figured it out, may I recommend a diet light on cheeseburgers and high on broccoli.)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
After voraciously reading Our Daily Meds and becoming thoroughly disgusted with the entire medical community, I was thus relieved to see in the Epilogue many calls-to-action.
With a Parent on numerous different prescriptions, I am concerned about negative drug interactions; none of them are "lifestyle" drugs, however I wonder how many could be reduced or eliminated with better nutrition, weight loss and exercise.
I would greatly enjoy a follow-up to this book covering the use of non-necessary therapeutic drugs on farm animals and the build-up in humans.
Furthermore, I wonder if there is a correlation between the Pharma Cos, research and the lowering of thresholds of certain illnesses, e.g. cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension. Naaah, purely coincidental, right?
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