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The Risks of Prescription Drugs (A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk))

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231146937
ISBN-10: 0231146930
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Editorial Reviews


The Risks of Prescription Drugs explains in clear, concise, and unflinching language the consequences of ignoring the discrepancy between the drug industry's private interests and the public service we hope and naïvely expect from them. This book provides consumers with tools for self-defense and concerned citizens with a road map for rebalancing American medicine.

(John Abramson, Harvard Medical School, author of Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine)

This volume introduces important debates on pharmaceutical promotion and marketing, needed drug evaluation and regulation, professional conflicts of interest, and increased medicalization of behavior. It explores important trends and policy questions that all engaged citizens should consider.

(David Mechanic, Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, and author of The Truth About Health Care: Why Reform Is Not Working in America)

This is a sensible, readable and constructive book that could in various respects open the reader's eyes, and then lead him, with his eyes wide open, along the road to a healthier world.

(M.N.G. Dukes International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine 1900-01-00)

This well-referenced title will be of particular interest to prescribers, but I recommend it to all healthcare professionals.

(Roger Evans Nursing Standard)


Although many are aware that pharmaceutical industry lobbyists influence policy decisions, few know the full consequences. In this enlightening book, some of the nation's leading health policy experts expose the risks to Americans posed by the pharmaceutical industry.

(Jill Quadagno, former president of the American Sociological Association, author of The Transformation of Old Age Security)

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Product Details

  • Series: A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk)
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231146930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231146937
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donald Light is a professor of medical and economic sociology who has written extensively about health care policy, the sociology of the medical profession, the US and other advanced health care systems, and more recently pharmaceutical policy around issues of global and institutional ethics. He is a founding fellow of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 2012-13 was a Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Light is concerned that so few new drugs are better than existing ones, yet put patients at risk for adverse drug reactions. They have become an epidemic -- 46 million a year and the 5th leading cause of death. Trained at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and Brandeis University, he is a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is the Lokey Visiting Professor at Stanford University. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. Related research shows that clinical trials are done poorly and designed to minimize evidence of side effects. Costs of research are much lower than claimed, and most money for discovering new medicines comes from public sources already.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Flynn on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
"The Risks of Prescriptions Drugs was a great complement to my undergraduate class on the Sociology of Health. I used chapters of the text to demonstrate concepts related to medicalization, the social contamination of science, and patient-doctor interactions. While I only put the book on the recommended and not required list of readings, I had students simulate the doctor-patient dialogues in Howard Brody's 'The Commercialization of Medical Decisions: Physicians and Patients at Risk' in order to highlight issues related to the social construction of disease and pervasive influence of corporate interests. The chapters written by Don Light have also informed my lectures and class discussions. In the future, I would cut back on some of the bland readings in the textbook I used for the course and make The Risks of Prescription Drugs required readings."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Healthcare Advocate on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Risks of Prescription Drugs

This book is a must-read for policymakers and all Americans wanting a better understanding of continuing soaring drug costs, how many drugs of marginal benefit and potential harm are brought to market, how we are being victimized in our over-medicated society by an industry concerned mainly with its own profits, how many of our physicians are complicit with the industry's interests, and what we can do about it. This is the latest in a series of books published by the Columbia University Press and the Social Science Research Council that applies social science research to assess the impacts of privatization that has shifted the burden of risk from government and other institutions in earlier years to individuals and families today. This concise and well-written book gives us an in-depth view of how the pharmaceutical industry really works as it pursues its own self-interest and profits over the public interest. It is edited by Donald W. Light, Ph.D., medical and economic sociologist, professor of comparative health care at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a founder of the Center for Bioethics, and author of Benchmarks for Fairness of Health Care Reform. He is joined by three other scholars as they together give us the inside story of how we as patients and families lose out to the exploitative and entrepreneurial behavior of a deregulated drug industry in the U.S.

--John P. Geyman, M.D., Professor emeritus of Family Medicine, University of Washington, member Institute of Medicine, and author of The Corporate Transformation of Medicine: Can the Public Interest Still Be Served? and The Corrosion of Medicine: Can the Profession Reclaim Its Moral Legacy?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike Retter on January 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This publication should be mass produced and made freely available to all via schools, medical centres, It is real eye opener to dubious (possibly unscrupulus) world of corporate pharmaceutical companies and their greed at the expense of human lives!
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