We've all heard the stories of allergy drugs that caused toxic reactions when taken with other medications, painkillers that caused liver damage in people who also drink a lot of alcohol, or antidepressants that ruin some users' sex lives. In fact, "there is no such thing as a safe drug," asserts Thomas J. Moore, who researched drug safety as a senior fellow in health policy at George Washington University. Moore is something of a drug doomsayer, and many readers of this book will join him in his fears. He asserts that drug companies are not above manipulating information about their products--an especially egregious situation, since doctors get much of their information about drugs from the manufacturers themselves. For instance, he notes that a report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that the company that manufactures the sleep aid Halcion "vigorously sought to suppress the publication of unfavorable studies and attempted to silence Halcion critics." Moore appears to have done massive research, and he documents his stories of the development and approval of dozens of drugs with extensive footnotes. (It would be interesting to hear a response from the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA.) By focusing on dangers, side effects, and flawed clinical trials, Moore gives short shrift to the real benefits of many medications--but that's not the point here. Instead, he makes a strong case for drug users to be careful consumers and take note of their own individual reactions to medications, rather than leaving it up to their doctors or anyone else. --Ben Kallen
From Library Journal
Moore, a senior fellow in health policy at the George Washington University Medical Center, reports that prescription drugs contribute to 100,000 deaths each year. He also points out that over a lifetime of drug taking, the average American has a 26 percent chance of being hospitalized from a drug injury. Clearly, putting blind faith in prescription drugs can be dangerous, and Moore aims to tell consumers how they can minimize the risks of serious side effects in all therapeutic categories. Though he does provide references to the professional medical literature to substantiate his claims, in this reviewer's opinion he greatly accentuates the negative; obviously, drugs have been invaluable in curing disease and alleviating symptoms. Still, for its timely warning, this book is recommended for all consumer health collections.
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-?Bruce Slutsky, New Jersey Inst. of Technology Lib., Newark
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