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Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies: Prescription Drugs, Side Effects, and Your Health Hardcover – October 15, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Replete with information supported by recognized and reliable sources, this expos‚-cum-health guide should be read by anyone taking prescription medication. Cohen, an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, focuses on the practice of "standard dosing," i.e., the same number of milligrams prescribed for all patients; his articles about dosage have appeared in the New York Times and Newsweek. Asserting that different ages and conditions can affect how a drug is metabolized, and thus its effectiveness, Cohen advises to "Start Low, Go Slow." Lower doses often prove just as effective, and higher doses in the wrong person can be deadly. The chapters proceed logically, divided by families of drugs and, later, by FDA regulations, kickbacks to doctors from pharmaceutical companies, ghostwritten articles commissioned by pharmaceutical companies and attributed to independent doctors in trusted medical journals. Most importantly, Cohen discusses at length deadly and other irreversible side effects of new drugs, suggesting that warnings on drug packages are incomplete. He describes the pharmaceutical companies' practice of luring doctors to exotic weekend-long retreats for a two-hour symposium about a new product. Finally, Cohen gives insight into the doctor's Bible: The Physician's Desk Reference. Clear, easy narrative and anecdotal evidence makes this an accessible, albeit disturbing, read. This medical-biz gadfly delivers an invaluable resource for doctors and patients alike. (Oct. 15)Forecast: Given its nearly limitless potential audience, and with a national author tour kicked off by an appearance on the radio talk show People's Pharmacy, prominent display in stores could make sales take off.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Medications don't cause side effects their dosages do. That is the message sent by Cohen, a psychiatrist and professor of family medicine, in this repetitive but necessary expos of drug companies' marketing practices, physicians' prescribing behavior, and the inadequacy of dosing information in the Physicians' Desk Reference. Cohen argues that most adverse effects could be eliminated if doctors tailored a drug's dosage to an individual, but because manufacturers want to obtain approval for new drugs as quickly as possible, they do not perform adequate testing to determine the lowest effective amount. This can cause doctors to use a "one size fits all" mentality and prescribe like dosages for all patients. Cohen presents a plethora of practical information, including lower effective dosage recommendations for 53 top-selling drugs and a questionnaire for patients to determine how sensitive they are to medication. Numerous case studies, quotations from prominent researchers, and references support his premise that doctors should usually "start slow, go slow," and always individualize the dosage for each patient. Highly recommended for public and medical libraries. Natalie Kupferberg, Biological Sciences/ Pharmacy Lib., Ohio State Univ., Columbus
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 1 edition (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585421235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585421237
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,126,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jay Cohen M.D. is a nationally respected expert on prescription medications, avoiding side effects, and natural remedies. Dr. Cohen is an Adjunct (voluntary) Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, Dr. Cohen averted radical treatments with their serious, long-term adverse effects by obtaining leading-edge diagnostic tests that more accurately defined his cancer as non-threatening. Because most men are not told about these tests, and because tens of thousands of men with prostate cancer get surgery or radiation that they do not need, Dr. Cohen wrote his most recent book, Prostate Cancer Breakthroughs, to provide men with a step by step guide dealing with this dangerous disease.

Dr. Cohen earned his medical degree at Temple University in 1971. After completing his internship, he practiced general medicine and subsequently conducted ground-breaking research at UCLA in 1973 on acupuncture and pain. In 1974, he undertook a residency in psychiatry and psychopharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, and has practiced these specialties since 1977.

Beginning in 1990, Dr. Cohen undertook independent research in pharmacology, specifically on the causes of medication side effects that cause more than 100,000 deaths and 2 million hospitalizations each year. The emphasis of his work has been on prevention, and his identification of a substantial proportion of the population that is medication-sensitive is groundbreaking. Since 1996, he has published his findings in 8 books and leading medical journals, as well as articles in consumer publications such as Newsweek, Bottom Line Health, and Life Extension Magazine. Dr. Cohen's work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal, Modern Maturity, Women's Day, and virtually every major magazine and newspaper in America. His book, Over Dose: The Case Against The Drug Companies (Tarcher/Putnam, Nov. 2001), received unanimously excellent reviews including from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Cohen has been featured on more than 100 radio programs across America including the "People's Pharmacy" and National Public Radio. He has spoken at conferences of patients, doctors, drug industry executives, and attorneys. In October 2001, during the anthrax scare, his medical journal article on severe reactions to Cipro, Levaquin, and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics triggered a national debate on the best treatment for anthrax and prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to withdraw its recommendation for the initial use of Cipro in anthrax exposure cases. In November 2002, Dr. Cohen was the keynote speaker at the Annual Science Day of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Clinical Pharmacology Division. He has debated top FDA officials on drug safety at conferences including the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the Drug Information Association.

He is also the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of The Erythromelalgia Association, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Cohen conducts his research and writing, and his practice in psychiatry and psychopharmacology, in Del Mar, CA.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Larry J. Frieders on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I began working in pharmacy in the late 1960's. I helped dispense drugs at a retail drugstore in my home town and I did the same in the largest hospital in Chicago. I kept it up at another hospital and then started "doing" it on my own when I opened my retail store in 1983. I read the manufacturers' package inserts and I followed the prescriptions as they were ordered - and I noticed that many people had problems with the "recommended" dose. Sometimes they got used to the dose and sometimes it had to be changed. In any event, the recommended dose was not always accurate accurate - it was often dangerously WRONG.
I don't know what I thought about all the problems with prescription drugs. I guess I just presumed the patients were overly sensitive, or just unlucky. I didn't often think too much about it - until I became aware of Dr. Jay Cohen and his "Case Against the Drug Companies." His shocking book is called "OVER DOSE" and it describes in good detail the dangers of relying on the manufacturers' package inserts to prescribe drugs.
This is an "eye opener" book and it angers me. How is it that we have this overriding desire to place the bottom line above decent care for health? There are some great things happening in medicine - all around the world. But I think that all the good can be quickly undone by hanging on to a misguided philosophy that insists that profits trump everything else. Its time for a change and Dr. Cohen is part of the changing process. I promise to do my part for change. One thing is to expose potential problems (like Dr. Cohen has done) and another is to encourage people to think about the issues (that's my goal). Please get a copy of this book. Read it and then think about what it really means. When we reach a critical mass changes will happen. You can bank on it! (pun intended)
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Duane E.Graveline MD, retired medical doctor and former NASA scientist/astronaut. on October 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for every practicing physician as well as for everyone who takes medicine. After reading this book, a major regret is that it was not available to me when I was first starting out in practice.It shames me to think how completely brainwashed I was by the drug companies. And I was not alone. All doctors in my acquaintenance seemed to share my misguided reverence for drug company marketing ploys. The essence of Doctor Cohen's message in this book is that we are all different in our reactions to drugs and the one size fits all mentality used for convenience by the drug industry inevitably results in underdosing some and overdosing others, frequently with serious or even lethal side effects. Start low, go slow is the author's message to doctors and I heartily endorse it.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Louise Glegg, R.N., M.A. on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Over Dose is a must read for anyone who uses either prescription or over-the-counter medications. Dr. Cohen's clear explanations about adverse effects resulting from the standardized high doses generally prescribed, and what to do about this, could save your life or that of a loved one. And Over Dose might shed light on why you or people you know suffer from certain health problems.
Actually, I found this rigorously researched book quite disturbing. It exposes deeply entrenched and shocking problems related to pharmaceuticals that pervade not only the health care system, but also clinical research. However, it also suggests solutions.
We desperately need a dose of reality -- even if it leaves a bitter aftertaste. Good medicine doesn't always taste sweet.
I say BRAVO to Dr. Cohen for the courage to publish this important work!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Finally, someone has put into print an accurate and factual picture of what the drug manufacturing industry does to place profits way ahead of patient benefit and safety. Anyone who takes prescription medications should read this book. Maybe it gets a little too technical in spots for people not in the health professions, but there is plenty of excellent information and suggestions to make this a very valuable reference for consumer-oriented patients.
I am a doctoral-level clinical pharmacist, and I found myself in agreement with most all of what Dr. Cohen has written and recommended in this book. This should be required reading for every practicing physician, medical student, pharmacist, and nurse in the country. Medical schools should add this to their curriculum for all of our doctors-to-be to read before they take their pharmacology course and start their clinical training.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Karl Granat on November 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that illuminates a dark and widespread problem in the use of prescription medication: Namely, that many people are harmed by taking a far larger dose of their prescription medication than is necessary to obtain the desired level of benifit. The result of this overdose is an epidemic of side effects that are for the most part preventable.
If you do not think the problem of drug reactions and side effects is a bad problem- think again! As Dr. Cohen writes, every day an estimated 300 people die from bad side effects of medication is given in the hospital alone!
Dr. Cohens book 1) discusses the problem that exists, 2) offers various remedies to the problem, and 3) offers a simple and effective solution that can allow you to work with your Medical Doctor in order to tailor the dose of your medications to your individual needs.
I highly recommend this book!
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