From Publishers Weekly
While most people are vaguely aware of the uncomfortable symbiosis between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, few would believe the flagrant bribery and brow-beating that occurs, according to Elliott's (Better Than Well) latest. Pharmaceutical companies have overwhelming influence over research studies, grant funding, and the decisions or suggestions that doctors make regarding the care of their patients. As the financial stakes continue to increase, the pharmaceutical industry has an even greater incentive to obfuscate potentially harmful findings about their products. Elliot, a professor of bioethics at the University of Minnesota, methodically exposes every aspect of the connection between Big Pharma and medicine, interviewing experiment subjects, doctors, pharmaceutical sales reps, and others on the frontlines of the issue to give readers a thorough understanding of what lies behind a simple prescription. Employing often shocking stories to reveal larger ethical problems in the industry, Elliott offers no easy answers in an effort that informs and inflames in equal measure.
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*Starred Review* Any physician knows that the careless mingling of certain medical interventions can lead to unwanted—even fatal—consequences for the patient. That explains why physician-philosopher Elliott decided to pen this cautionary book, exposing example after example of the adverse effects of mixing capitalism with the practice of medicine. It leads, he says, to a situation where there is no true advocate for the patient. Patients have become health-care consumers shopping for “the best medical bargains they can find.” In such an atmosphere, neither the pharmaceutical company nor the medical researcher, not even one’s own doctor, can be relied upon to place a patient’s best interests above profits. Besides the obvious perils inherent when a physician accepts “gifts” from pharmaceutical and medical-equipment salespeople, there are risks when authorities trusted with oversight also have conflicts of interest. Many medical journals depend upon corporate advertising, and clinical-trial oversight committees are populated with people who are on a pharmaceutical company’s payroll. Moreover, because medical research has become so proprietary, he notes, no one is sharing basic discoveries, resulting in needless duplication of efforts that can delay or kill advanced scientific developments. Elliott’s dim view ought to be a real eye-opener for health-care patients-cum-consumers. --Donna Chavez