From Publishers Weekly
This accessible study about the collusion between medical science and the drug industry emphasizes how drug companies market their products by either redefining problems as diseases (like female sexual dysfunction) or redefining a condition to encompass a greater percentage of the population. Moynihan, a health journalist for the New England Journal of Medicine
and the Lancet,
and Cassels, a Canadian science writer, note, for instance, that eight of the nine specialists who wrote the 2004 federal guideline on high cholesterol, which substantially increased the number of people in that category, have multiple financial ties to drug manufacturers. Physicians now routinely prescribe cholesterol-lowering pills (statins) that may have perilous side effects, when many people could lower their risk of heart attack with less costly and dangerous steps, such as exercise and improved diet. Through aggressive merchandising, funding of medical conferences and expensive perks, drug companies win doctors over to diagnosing these "diseases" and prescribing drugs for them. Unfortunately for these authors, much of this territory has been covered by several books in the past year, most notably Marcia Angell's The Truth About the Drug Companies
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Science and medicine writers Moynihan and Cassels conjecture that most Americans believe, based on information gleaned from a deluge of pharmaceutical-company advertisements, that conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, menopause, and chronic constipation are bona fide diseases. They quote reputable medical experts, however, who refute such understandings. What's more, they suggest that billions of precious and diminishing health-care dollars are squandered treating those nondiseases of healthy, wealthy Americans and would be better spent treating the legitimately sick poor and fighting the international AIDS epidemic. Quoting former Merck CEO Henry Gadsen--who, in a 1976 Fortune
article, confessed that "it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people. Because then, Merck would be able to 'sell to everyone'"--they lay the blame for the misdirected billions at the feet of just such pharmaceutical giants as Merck. Finally, they counterpoint glossy pharmaceutical ad campaigns with alternatives that consumers may consider before asking their doctors for prescription drugs they saw touted on TV. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved