Profile for Joel M. Kauffman > Reviews

Browse

Joel M. Kauffman's Profile

Customer Reviews: 108
Top Reviewer Ranking: 475,735
Helpful Votes: 4111




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Joel M. Kauffman RSS Feed (Berwyn, PA United States)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11
pixel
Money Talks - Profits Before Patient Safety
Money Talks - Profits Before Patient Safety
DVD ~ Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau
Price: $19.30
18 used & new from $4.07

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells it like it is about Big Pharma, October 6, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
You cannot imagine what bravery it took for this DVD to be made. One guest is a former detail man and the producer is former detail woman, now called drug reps. In a PBS documentary style, but with rapid movement between 6 guests, this is the story of overselling drugs, mis-educating physicians, and control of even academic medical research. Even if you are a jaded cynic like me, you will find out some new disgusting angle to the prescription drug business.
Here is the place for me to recommend Deadly Medicine by Thomas J. Moore (1995) and any of his other books. And Let Them Eat Prozac by David Healy (2004). And The Trouble with Medical Journals by Richard Smith. And Calculated Risks by Gerd Gigerenzer (2002).


Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir
Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir
by Jerry M. Linenger
Edition: Paperback
85 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest report on life on Mir, September 30, 2007
Unexpectedly, the best book by an astronaut I have ever read. Utterly honest, detailed but not too much, Linenger certainly had "the right stuff". Brilliant, adaptable and a jock, he survived 5 months in an unreliable, uncomfortable Mir space station, and got along very well with two pairs of Russian Cosmonauts, after "learning" Russian in a 5-week crash course. He gives the lowdown on Russian competence in the space program, the political reason for funneling US funds into joint space activity, the excessive control of by Russian ground crew of their cosmonauts. Much is as expected for Russians long living in a repressive, loveless society. True, the poverty of the Russian Republic would make anyone difficult.

Descriptions of ordinary lavatory functions, repair of every imaginable device on the Mir, all of which broke down, and details of docking, undocking, and returning to Earth on a Space Shuttle were more complete than any other I have read. Details of bone density loss, odd effects of Earth gravity and other bits were seen by me for the first time. For me "Off the Planet" was far superior to the classics such as First on the Moon by Armstrong, Collins & Aldrin (too sanitized), "Return to Earth"? by Aldrin (too personally focused, but good), or "Last on the Moon". Only "Apollo 13" compares, but is too sanitized.

My only gripe is that the scientific experiments on which so much time and money were spent do not come in for any description at all, nor any refs. to their publication, or Principal Investigators. Minor gripes were an occasional ambiguous antecedent, pride in contributing to lowering the fat content of Navy diets (on p7; utterly discredited by "The Cholesterol Myths" by Uffe Ravnskow, 2000; "The Modern Nutritional Diseases" by Ottoboni, 2001; "The GReat Cholesterol Con" by Anthony Colpo, 2006; and many others. See [...] On p9, canned tuna is healthful, but Minute Rice is not for the carb-sensitive among us. Twice, p78 and 189, "hydrolysis" of water is used instead of the correct "electrolysis".


Side Effects
Side Effects
DVD ~ Katherine Heigl
28 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bares Big Pharma Excesses, September 23, 2007
This review is from: Side Effects (DVD)
Seemingly too simple at first, this film about the disillusionment of a 23 year old drug detail woman says it all about overselling of dangerous drugs. The huge rewards for all out drug pushing finally lost out to a woman with conscience who found out about fatal side effects in a soon-to-be-introduced antianxiety drug she would have to sell to doctors. Reactions of doctors to detail women are given across the spectrum quite accurately. The mishandling of honest researchers is very well presented. The only reason for 4 stars not 5 is saggy directing at times.

To see exactly the same plot, an actual true story is novelized in "Pawn of Pharma" by Evan Jacobs, 2005, to which I gave 5 stars. Equally simple, yet all the corporate slime is there too.

For a more intellectual treatment of the same subject, which gets into falifying results of clinical trials of drugs and tests, see "Let Them Eat Prozac" by David Healy, MD; "The Cult of Pharmacology" by Richard de Grandpre, Ph. D.; "Overdo$ed America" by John Abramson, MD, "Prescription for Disaster" by Thomas J. Moore, Ph. D.; "Politics in Healing" by Daniel Haley.


1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
by Charles C. Mann
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.84
402 used & new from $1.48

7 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed, September 23, 2007
Henry Ford said that all history was bunk, and he had not even read 1491! What a shock to find that the population of the new world in 1491 was greater than that of the old world! That the natives, said to be long-term farmers, had shaped the landscape to suit themselves, that buffalo roamed in small numbers until old world diseases killed off most (90%) of the native tribes and thus allowed the huge herds to form. What a shock to find that many north American tribes considered themselves libertarian compared with the hierarchy bound Europeans. Yet more than enough evidence is given from old writings long ignored, and new archeological finds.

This is all fast and entertaining reading. There are many maps to help explanations, citations by page number, and an index. Mann traveled to several of the archeological sites.

On the downside, Mann talked of the "balanced diet" as though its desirability has been proven, and does not say how maize provided this "balance" (p18). The battle between Hernán Cortés's men and the Mexica was said to have been described as the costliest battle in history with 100,000 casualties (not deaths), (p129). Why no mention of Verdun in WWI with a million deaths and Stalingrad in WWII with a million deaths? Is a mammoth's molar really the size of a bowling ball? (p152) Mann wrote of winter on the Amazon river. I thought equatorial areas had wet and dry seasons, not the 4 seasons observed far from the equator (pp301,305).

But there is another, bigger fly in the ointment. Mann accepts the carbon dioxide from combustion hypothesis of global warming (pp300,308). Solar cycles of changing heat output and the sun's influence on cosmic ray effects on the Earth's clouds determine climate, not CO2 levels. [Jaworowski Z, Solar cycles, not CO2, determine climate, 21st Century Science and Technology, Winter 2003-2004, pp52-65. Accessed as a PDF on 5 Jul 07 at: [...] or at: [...] According to Laurence Hecht, Editor of 21st Century Science & Technology: "Of all the hypotheses [on Earth climate], that of human-produced carbon dioxide as the forcing mechanism for warming is the most deeply and extensively studied, and by far the most discredited. No other hypothesis rests on such flagrant and lying disrepect for data as...on the falsification of the historical CO2 record." [Hecht L, What Really Causes Climate Change? EIR Science, 2 Mar 07, pp6-9. Accessed as a PDF on 5 Jul 07 at: [...] The other big falsification in this hypothesis, skyrocketing temperatures in the last 50 years to levels not seen in 1300 years, is exemplified by the temperature graph of Michael Mann, which was shown to be a fraud, not just a mistake [McIntyre, S., McKitrick, R. (2005). Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance. Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L03710; doi:10.1029/2004GL021750], [Soon, W., Baliunas, S. (2003). Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years. Climate Research, 23, 89-110].

So for historical controversies Charles C. Mann appeared to do balanced work, with opposing ideas neatly cited. But by failing to look up the "other side" on global warming, he missed effects of giant volcanic eruptions and solar output changes on temperature. The Roman era warming and Medieval Climate Optimum, both with temperatures higher than now and the Little Ice Age (1500-1800) were ignored, thus their effects on migration and population sizes was missed. Now it seems that the crop failures of the Little Ice Age were a main reason for northern Europeans to try to move to a warmer climate.

As always with with non-fiction, some errors make the entire work suspicious. Still a worthwhile book with its limitations in mind.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2007 2:36 PM PST


Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats
Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats
by Steve Ettlinger
Edition: Hardcover
125 used & new from $0.01

74 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Follies with Food Facts, July 13, 2007
Asked by his children what the ingredients in a Twinkie creme-filled cake really were, and where they came from, Steve traveled the world to find out, interviewing over a hundred people in the process. The book is well-written in the sense that it can be read very fast, and is entertaining until the number of technical errors and chemophobia intrude, which for me began on p8. I happen to enjoy processing plant and mine tours, even vicariously, and do not shy from hundreds of facts and factoids. It was fascinating to find where the biggest plants were that made the ingredients of a Twinkie, which are: wheat flour, bleach, iron(II) sulfate, vitamins B1, B2, B3, sugar, corn sweeteners, corn thickeners, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lecithin and soy protein isolate, eggs, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings, baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, salt, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, natural and artificial flavors, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium and calcium caseinates, calcium sulfate, sorbic acid, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and Red. No. 40. All but 2 of the chapter headings follow this ingredient list. There is an inadequate index and no references, an ominous sign of what is to follow. There are no pictures or drawings, which this topic screams for. The concept was excellent, as were the metaphors. Between that and the potential entertainment value my rating would have been 5-star, even though the target audience was 12-14 years old, IMHO.

A fine appreciation of food chemistry was finally given on p258-260: "The fact that chemicals, especially those in foods, are part of nature..." Well and good, but Steve infiltrates all kinds of snide comments about "chemicals" almost everywhere else, such as one about the surprising purity of synthetic chemicals as opposed to natural (p208) -- the reverse of the truth -- that most natural chemicals are mixtures, and many synthetic ones are very pure. Part of the difficulty is that Steve does not define what a chemical is, or know the difference between an element, a compound, and a mixture, or between a rock and a mineral. Except on p173, where Steve appears to understand that the reactive and toxic elements, sodium and chlorine, react to form salt (sodium chloride), which has none of the properties of its precursors. Time after time he tries to scare the reader by implying that the toxicity of the precursors (called intermediates by chemists) somehow makes it into non-toxic products. On p261: "...try reflecting on the fact that one of the world's most lethal chemicals, chlorine, and one of the most reactive chemicals, sodium, have an exalted place...[in] the salt shaker." This, sadly, is more typical. Of course, there is no elemental sodium or chlorine in salt, and the properties of the elements do not persist in salt. And a rock should not be confused with a mineral.

So to repeat grade-school material, all substances are chemical. Dreams and electronic phenomena are not. Substances are either pure or mixtures. The smallest stable units of matter in substances are molecules. In an element, all the atoms in all the molecules are the same, except for isotopes, which still have the same chemical properties. In a compound, meaning that 2 or more elements are present in the molecule, all the molecules are alike. Sugar (sucrose) is a compound formed from a glucose and a fructose with loss of water; it is not a mixture of glucose and fructose as Steve claims (p71). A rock is a mixture of minerals. Granite is a mixture of the minerals quartz, mica and feldspar, and most minerals are well-defined compounds. Eating refined salt or calcium sulfate is not the same as eating rock. Steve wrote that the toxic and flammable element phosphorus is part of the Twinkies recipe (p154). This is nonsense. Steve never learned from a chemist to write: "phosphorus compounds, phosphates, are part of the Twinkies recipe"; no, he has to scare us and give chemicals in general a bad name on almost every page.

Steve wrote: "Ferrous sulfate is light gray with a bluish tinge, just as you'd expect an iron derivative to look" (p42). Pure iron(II) sulfate is actually pale green, just as I would expect it to look.

Steve wrote: "Despite being a mere mineral, calcium is really a so-called earth metal, like sodium...(p232). Calcium is not a mineral, because it is never found as the free element. Steve meant gypsum (calcium sulfate), I think. Calcium belongs to the family of elements called alkaline earths and sodium is in the family of alkali metals.

Whenever Steve has trouble with the chemistry of a food additive, his writing becomes very terse and flawed. From p250: "A reaction of benzene with nitric acid, itself a product of hydrogen (usually from natural gas) and nitrogen (usually from liquid air) that have been passed over over a thin platinum wire mesh, makes nitrobenzene and leads to the all-important aniline, a colorless oily liquid with a strong, pleasant odor that happens to be highly poisonous." When this is untangled, we find: (1) the reaction of hydrogen and nitrogen over a heated catalyst of iron oxide and potassium aluminate at 400 atm leads to ammonia, not nitric acid; (2) ammonia and air are heated to 650° and passed over a platinum/rhodium catalyst to make nitric acid, not nitrobenzene; (3) benzene and nitric acid with considerable sulfuric acid yields nitrobenzene; (4) nitrobenzene with iron powder or hydrogenation over nickel gives aniline; and (5) aniline does not have a pleasant odor in my nose. None of this makes much sense to a non-chemist without pictures of the molecules involved, which are sorely lacking. All the reactions are over 100 years old, so industrial secrecy should not have been an issue.

Steve fell for the myth that eating saturated fat causes hardening of the arteries (p181). See "The Cholesterol Myths" by Uffe Ravnskov, 2000; and "The Modern Nutritional Diseases" by Ottoboni.

A list of another 50 errors are available by e-mailing: kauffman@bee.net.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 3:37 PM PST


The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
by Henry H. Bauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $33.43
36 used & new from $3.73

65 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Investigation on HIV not Causing AIDS, July 9, 2007
One of the most difficult things to write is a refutation of a massive fraud, especially a health fraud, in the face of media control and knowledge monopolies by financial powerhouses. Making it still more difficult is the possible threat of libel lawsuits from the powerful parties essentially accused of scientific misconduct at best and criminal negligence at worst. Following in the footsteps of Peter Duesberg, Robert Root-Bernstein, Neville Hodgkinson, Gordon Stewart, David Crowe, Linda Marsa and many others, Henry Bauer has produced a very readable explanation of why HIV does not cause AIDS, and whatever AIDS is, it has not caused an epidemic. His civility of tone is remarkable. Dr. Bauer's conclusions are backed up by about 450 references, about 100 to primary medical journals. The book has a good index, 27 figures and 35 tables.

Part I shows that HIV does not cause AIDS. Dr. Bauer makes it clear that "HIV positive" means a response to a test that shows little more than stress and immune system potentiation. Because of this, Dr. Bauer labels the prevalence or frequency of positive HIV tests "F(HIV)". An actual virus has not been isolated. This is the main reason that no vaccine has appeared. People who test positive are usually not sick, will not develop AIDS, may spontaneously change so they are no longer HIV positive, and are not likely to infect anyone else by blood transfer or sex. The failure of F(HIV) to spread, and its steady incidence, with some decline, over 20 years contradict the scary warnings that permeate publications and TV programs. The % of people who show HIV-positive is dependent on race, sex and location, not their behavior. Some people who develop AIDS were not HIV positive. Further obfuscating the issue was a medical cabal confusing an outbreak of Kaposi's sarcoma in the 1980s with AIDS. More confusion was sown by changing the definition of AIDS to merely being HIV positive, rather than a wasting illness from infections normally controlled by a healthy body. Many perfectly healthy people who were given AZT or mixtures of anti-retroviral drugs (triple cocktail) developed symptoms said to be AIDS that were actually drug side effects. In a sneaky way this "confirmed" the false premise that a positive HIV test indicated AIDS. Even now, healthy people who have a positive test are said to be "living with AIDS", a false and destructive description, according to Dr. Bauer.

Part II discusses other mistakes and scares in medical science. One sequence is on treatment of schizophrenics, who were infected with malaria, treated by electric shock, and then by lobotomy as supposed "cures" we see today as brutal and idiotic. The very common notion that high cholesterol levels cause atherosclerosis and heart attacks is also mentioned by Dr. Bauer as false. So was the resistance of orthodox medicine to admit that bacteria were the prime cause of stomach ulcers. Much of this resistance to the latter pair of ailments was said to be Big Pharma's desire to maintain profits, which also applies to anti-retroviral drugs.

Part III is the most wrenching to read, at times as hard as reading details of the Holocaust. The claim by Robert Gallo in the National Cancer Institute to have isolated "the cause of AIDS", eventually named HIV. After his receipt of a sample of something in AIDS patients from the Pasteur Institute, he developed a test for antibodies to HIV. This was followed by a patent dispute between the NCI and the PI on who invented the test. Dr. Bauer noted that the PI probably did it based on the outcome of the patent fight. Dr. Bauer also noted that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention spread panic about the connection between F(HIV) and AIDS, exactly opposite to one of their mandated functions. Exact quotations from the CDC and others on HIV and AIDS were reproduced with explanations of internal inconsistencies or mutant statistics. Turns out that President Mbeki of South Africa was correct to refuse anti-retroviral drugs, and that there is no epidemic of AIDS or even F(HIV) in Africa. On p241 Dr. Bauer cites a WHO claim that 34,000,000 people worldwide were HIV positive in 2000, and that there were 470,000 AIDS cases. This is only 1.4%, of which many would be misdiagnoses. A gullible media, also prone to financial pressure by withdrawal of advertising revenues, gets some blame, with most reporters accused of going only to mainstream "experts", and not taking the time to understand the field. The control of medical journals and failures and biases of peer-review are aired. (See my review of The Trouble with Medical Journals.) The difficulty of dumping the dogma is made only too clear as Dr. Bauer discusses the near-impossibility of having so many organizations recant, partly because of the record number of lawsuits that would arise.

Buried under this exposé of brutal bureaucratic bungling and fraud, some really good news emerged from this book. In my opinion, if you test positive for HIV, relax, and refuse any treatment if you have no symptoms. If you have had "unprotected sex" at any time, relax, because transmission of whatever the test responds to is under 1/1000. Many people, babies especially, spontaneously become HIV negative. Of course, refuse to have the test if at all possible, and where you are forced to have the test, be ready to sign on to any class-action lawsuit for invasion of privacy, since transmission rates are so low, negating the excuse for invading privacy in the first place. Not in the book were promising results of treatment of AIDS patients with low levels of CD4 cells or with PCP by means of intravenous sodium ascorbate. (See pp92-102 and my review of: Levy TE (2002). Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins, Xlibris.com, Xlibris.)
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2011 3:54 PM PDT


Drug Discovery: From Bedside to Wall Street
Drug Discovery: From Bedside to Wall Street
by Tamas Bartfai
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.66
44 used & new from $3.19

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Remove Lees' Review, Add Pane's, May 8, 2007
It is not appropriate for an author of a book to put in a review, and that is exactly what the 1 review is.

Frances Pane sent in a review 3 weeks ago which was ignored. Why?


Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency
Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency
by Archon Fung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $35.99
75 used & new from $0.48

4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good topic, some problems, May 8, 2007
Good discussion of how hard it is to find data on the safety of things from cars to food to investments. Goes into great detail about how to make interpretable ratings or labels, and what organizations should coperate to do them.

Authors prove own point by missing out on key data on several topics, and merely quote dogma. For example, the supposed dangers of "sodium" meaning sodium ion or salt (pp21,84,111) ignore key data that salt intake affects people both ways, and 10g/day is not that dangerous. See Elliott P et al. (1988). Intersalt: an international study of electrolyte excretion and blood pressure. Results for 24 hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion. British Medical Journal 297:319-328.

Authors quote dogma on high-fat foods and the supposed dangers of saturated fat (p33,53,84,111). See Enig M, Know Your Fats, 1999; Allan & Lutz, Life Without Bread, 2000; Ravnskov U, The Cholesterol Myths, Colpo A, The Great Cholesterol Con.

Authors cite fiber as a good thing (p88), but studies show some forms are beneficial for some conditions in some people, not nearly all, and many people are worse off with higher fiber intake. See Montonen J, Knekt P, Järvinen R, Aromaa A, Reunanen A (2003). Whole-grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77:622-629; Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Stampfer MJ, Rosner B, Speizer FE, Willett WC (1999). Dietary Fiber and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer and Adenoma in Women. New England Journal of Medicine 348(3):169-176.

Authors treat Material Safety Data Sheets descriptions of chemical hazards seriously. Try looking up salt, sugar powder and toluene MSDSs. You will see how hazardous these valuable substances are made to look. Then look up the sheet for bromine, which is really dangerous, and see that it is presented in much the same manner as toluene.

Authors call "speeding" a major cause of traffic crashes. Using the definition that "speeding" is driving faster than a posted speed limit, it is obvious that doing so on a road with light traffic in daylight is not dangerous and may prevent boredom. The definitive work was done from 1958-63 where the P. I. was Dr. Alfred L. Moseley working from the Harvard School of Public Health under a USPHS grant, found that fatal and serious crashes had multiple causes, including vehicle failure, weather, road hazards, driver error, but "speeding" was not one of them.

The authors seem unaware of the corruption at many of the government agencies. Just to pick on the FDA see Cohen JS, Overdose, 2001; Haley D, Politics in Healing, 2000; Moore TJ, Prescription for Disaster, 1998; DeGrandpre R, The Cult of Pharmacology, 2006.

Minor fussing over formats and inputs will not give us the clear disclosure we need because of the overwhelming corruption of responsible agencies as well as vendors.


Stop America's #1 Killer!
Stop America's #1 Killer!
by Thomas E. Levy
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $22.26

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the Title and Cover, March 12, 2007
As his earlier books were, this one, properly sub-titled "Reversible Vitamin Deficiency Found to be Origin of ALL Coronary Heart Disease", is excellent, both in its organization by type of ailment and the depth of references, about 650 of them, mostly to medical journals. No index. Still it is easy to read, and has the evidence for the value of taking vitamin C . Back cover says: "Coronary Heart Disease is Arterial Scurvy" and as we all know, scurvy is the result of too little vitamin C.

There are 29 short chapters, the last being practical suggestions, mostly easy to apply, for good cardio health. No index. So from p22: "So, prepare to be amazed, especially if you are a health care practitioner who has always felt that atherosclerosis is largely an unstoppable and steadily progressive disease. It is not... Turn an abnormal coronary angiogram into a normal one...

From p200: "As also noted earlier in the section on cholesterol, low cholesterol levels have also been shown in multiple studies to be strongly correlated with an increased chance of getting cancer or dying from cancer.

An excellent work with that incredibly thorough literature search. Again, the text is very easy to read.

On p253-4, the amount of vitamin C recommended daily is 3 to 9 grams. Three dozen other supplements are recommeded as well, and, in my opinion, are very well chosen, but a pain to take separately. Then: "Not that the above recommendations do not include calcium. Much of the atherosclerosis "epidemic" seen today is strongly fueled by the indiscriminate supplementation of calcium. Osteoporosis is readily treated effectively with the regimen as noted above, and with the exception of rare metabolic disorders, the supplementation of calcium is neve recommended." Amen!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 15, 2014 3:36 PM PST


The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture
The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture
by Richard J. DeGrandpre
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.95
27 used & new from $16.08

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drug Status Depends on More than Drug Composition, March 10, 2007
Richard DeGrandpre might be familiar to you as the author of Ritalin Nation. Ritalin comes in for much attention by detailed comparison with cocaine. Both are said to produce the same mental effects to the point where Ritalin is called "synthetic cocaine". A main theme of this book is that Ritalin is considered and "ethical" drug and an angel in dealing with ADHD, while cocaine is considered a "street" drug and a demon; this artifical difference had nothing to do with the pharmacology of the two drugs, but to the conditions of use and the dogma on each, called "placebo text". Both are dopamine reuptake inhibitors in the brain.

Methamphetamine as "meth" or "speed" has been called by a federal "drug czar" "the worst drug ever to hit America", and The New York Times wrote that it was "feeding an epidemic of addiction that...rivals that of heroin and cocaine over the past few decades". The same drug has been available as Methedrine or Desoxyn for decades and is said to have "all the qualities you could possibly want in an ADHD med -- it doesn't cause anxiety, it barely raises heart rate or blood pressure, it totally wipes out depression and fatigue, and it lasts a full twelve hours..." (p32). Angel or demon?

DeGrandpre also notes that "demon" heroin, introduced by Bayer of Leverkusen around 1885 as a non-addictive form of morphine, was available without a prescription for about 25 years, and is not nearly as addictive as US government officials have propagandized. Doubters should be warned that loose claims are not found in this book, and fully 52 pages are devoted to citations, mostly to medical journals, appendices, and index. Provision of maintenance doses of heroin and other street drugs in the UK and the Netherlands paid by their national health services was noted as a far better solution to a violent underground drug supply economy, which is the result of the prohibition in the USA.

Quite a good history of "mind-altering" drugs from Big Pharma is given, including amphetamines, tranquillizers, etc. Prozac from Eli Lilly came in for much attention. Not the first nor the last SSRI, Prozac was at first considered as an antihypertensive drug. "After the drug succeeded in not killing laboratory animals in initial exploratory studies--although it turned cats from friendly to growling and hissing..." Lilly responded to competition by launching Prozac as an antidepressant (p53). DeGrandpre left little doubt that that Prozac occasionally led to self-mutilation, suicide and murder (p62). Prozac was used as an example of overpromotion of a drug and drug class that lasted as long as the patents, then a "newer, better" drug under a new patent would be promoted. Of course, many other recent books with this theme exist; but The Cult is not primarily a jeremiad against Big Pharma, but a window into how much the pharmacology of a given drug, including nicotine, is combined with the myths and prohibitions of a drug to confuse its supposed benefits and risks.

The lack of effect of nicotine levels on the addiction to cigaret smoking, and the failure of alternate nicotine supply treatments to curb addiction more than slightly was quite a shocker. The special status of tobacco and alcohol because they were common farm products in the USA was brought out. Prohibition of alcohol was a failure partly because it was and is an excellent tranquilizer when not overdosed, and only addictive in a small minority of users.

Gradually the war on street drugs is shown to be similar to the current war on supplements in that Big Pharma wants its most expensive stuff used, and has gone to great lengths with both overt attacks, indirect attacks by entities not identifiable as B. P., and control of government and non-government agencies (Abramson, 2004; Cohen, 2001; Kauffman, 2006). "The cult of pharmacology must therefore have served a different purpose than the elimination of dangerous drugs and the sanctioning of psychiatric medications. ...during the twentieth century. The competitiveness of the drug market and the fact that one or two successfully approved and marketed compounds could raise a company from rags to riches almost overnight made for an increasingly aggressive and reckless industry. The medicopharmaceutical industrial complex that... emerged benefited directly from differential prohibition, moreover, in that the demonization of certain natural substances--marijuana, cocaine and opiates--helped set them apart from the "ethical" pharmaceutical compounds, even if the latter had equal or greater toxicity" (p241).

Very highly recommended with the sole complaint that there was not a single graph, chart, table or photo.

Abramson, J. (2004). Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Cohen, J. S. (2001). Overdose: The Case Against the Drug Companies, New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam.

Kauffman, J. M. (2006). Malignant Medical Myths, Infinity Publ., West Conshohocken, PA, 2006.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11