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Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine
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204 of 204 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have been a physician for 10 years. I have seen my profession gradually being taken over by the pharmaceutical industry. I have seen countless patients harmed - alas even killed - by drug reactions and polypharmacy.

I have sat and listened to countless drug representative presentations that were outright falsehoods and misrepresentations. It has been months - maybe even years that I have had available to me a medical education conference that was not somehow tainted by drug company money and therefore propaganda.

I have repeatedly had patients in my office begging me for medication that they do not need. They want it simply because it was on TV News last night - and came with a promise of metaphysical salvation. I spend much time every day dissuading patients from taking medication they simply do not need - indeed may even cause real medical problems.

The issues that are discussed in this book are very very real - and the scary part is I do not see my fellow physicians doing a single thing to address these huge problems.

Dr. Abramson - thank you for hopefully what will be the opening salvo in a very important battle.
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186 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Abramson's book concerns the influence that pharmaceutical companies have on physicians' knowledge. Chapter by chapter, he discusses the top selling medications prescribed in America and explains, in detail, all of the clinical trials that support the use of the medications. Then, he explains how the clinical trials were conducted (usually with the pharmaceutical companies preferred methods) and what the statistics behind the clinical trials REALLY support.

As a consumer who believed until recently was an "informed consumer," I was shocked to discover that the information I was getting on the National Institute for Health's website "pubmed.org" was less than definitive when it came to clinical trials. With Dr. Abramson's book, I now understand that those clinical trials, which most doctors depend on in helping them treat their patients are wildly distorted.

I applaud Dr. Abramson for writing this book. Just as Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring served as a catalyst for supporting changes in how we respect our environment, physicians, consumers and politicians should read this book and take action to protect our nation's health.

I think before another advertisement for a medication is splashed before our televisions, computers and magazines, there should be a warning box that reads "This medication may be dangerous to your health, so discuss alternatives with your doctor before trying it!"

This book was the most important book that I've read in the last few years and I thank Dr. Abramson for taking the time to write it and making it "user friendly."
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139 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a community health nurse, I have been observing the increasing commercialization of medicine and medical knowledge over the past decade. Dr. Abramson has hit the nail on the head - while the cost of health care continues to rise, the quality of the care and the outcomes have not increased. It is a travesty that the elderly and patients suffering from chronic conditions are being hoodwinked into choosing between food and pills , and that we are not focusing on lifestyle changes that will enhance and prolong the quality of life.
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76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In the news this morning (November 20, 2004): The Associated Press reports that shares in pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca PLC and GlaxoSmithKline PLC dropped after safety concerns over the anti-cholesterol drug, Crestor, and asthma drug, Serevent, were raised. For those who have read Dr. Abramson's book, Overdosed in America, safety concerns with Crestor will come as no surprise.

Dr. Abramson has done a more than credible job of researching the current state of medical care in the United States (taking three years away from his private practice to do so). Examining the links between emphasis on lowering cholesterol and drug company profits is just one area of current American medical care he tackles.

There are those who will argue that his common-sense approach to reducing health care costs while, at the same time, increasing American health, is too simple to be worthwhile. However, Dr. Abramson's recommendations are based on solid research findings. Sometimes, answers can be simple.

Overdosed America is an important book backed up by Dr. Abramson's painstaking research. Read it to save your wealth. Read it to save your health.

December Update:

I am astonished to see such highly negative reviews of Overdosed America. Are these the same folk who would never buy an automobile or vacuum without checking Consumers' ratings?

Surely, they have failed to read the book carefully or they could not suggest that much valuable research will be lost if we become actively involved in our own medicine and related pharmaceuticals instead of passive consumers of whatever latest pill that's being pushed.

Surely, they have failed to read carefully if they believe that the studies "proving" the safety of pharmaceutical are always fully and accurately reported.

My only beef with Dr. Abramson is that he is, in my opinion, far too lenient on doctors. While I realize that they are already overworked, I think that prescribing pharmaceuticals about which they know only what is given them by drug company representatives is reprehensible. We all have our part to play to keep medical costs and medical errors under control. To my mind the responsbility falls on doctors just as much as consumers.

Nonetheless, this book is far more than a sensationalism of the problems with current pharmaceuticals. The information it contains could save a life - your life or someone you love!

Phyllis Staff, Ph.D.
author, "How to Find Great Senior Housing"
and
"128 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer's and Other Dementias"

P.S. Added October 18, 2006: Events of the last two years have only buttressed the premise of Abramson's book. This is a "must-read" for anyone concerned about health and well-being. Don't miss it!
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Abramson became frustrated with patients who already "knew" what they needed via drug company ads, and "retreated" to teaching at Harvard Medical School. His personal experience and ability to carefully review medical research combine to produce an excellent book.

Much of what Abramson reports involves the drug industry. He gives specific examples where published drug studies focus on recipients non-representative of typical (target) users - eg. younger, and less prone to adverse reactions. Sometimes the reported data show (if one has the time to read carefully) that the true targets do WORSE with the medication, and this finding is obscured by positive results with the more numerous (atypical) younger selected test patients.

Other medical research reporting ploys utilized by drug companies include: 1)reporting initially positive results, while omitting adverse subsequent outcomes, 2)combining serious (when increased) and minor (when decreased) adverse event numbers to cover up problems, 3)comparing a strong dose of a new medicine with an inappropriate weak dose, comparing a new drug with a placebo, instead of existing efficacious drugs, 4)not reporting negative drug trials, 5)failing to point out that lifestyle changes often provide much better results than drugs, and 6)pulling advertising from medical journals running unfavorable articles.

The result is typically increased cost of care, and less than ideal results. Sometimes, however, it is much worse. Dr. Abramson reports that anti-arrhythmic drugs (reduce dangerous rapid heartbeat) were found to INCREASE death rates in '80 - however, the results were not published until '93, resulting in an estimated 20-75,000 extra deaths/year.

How are the drug companies able to do this? Abramson ticks off the mechanisms: 1)conflicts of interest - eg. NIH, FDA and many other leading physicians being paid "consulting" fees; 2)lobbying - drug companies spend the most, and have one lobbyist for every member of Congress; 3)providing funding (and control) for clinical trials - government funding had fallen to 20% by '02, and drug companies have moved most trials away from academic centers with high standards; and 4)funding over 70% of physician continuing medical education in '03.

Drug companies are not the only problem. Similar problems exist with recommendations for expensive procedures - eg. cardiac surgery, spinal fusion for back pain, and even dietary suggestions (leading physicians paid as consultants by the dairy and meat industries).

So how much extra costs result from all this? Abramson does not attempt a direct estimate, but does point out that U.S. healthcare is 40 - 60% more expensive than other leading nations, while our life expectancies lag. Another perspective is provided by the fact that regional variations in Medicare expenditures show 60% difference, with the areas spending less receiving easier access and better outcomes.

Dr. Abramson has provided an excellent public service by writing this book. Now all we need is for enough people to read it that the system is changed
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2004
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a physician who has practiced Emergency Medicine since 1981 I applaud Dr Abramson's work. Physicians and patients are now used to the direct marketing of drugs, and may be aware how manipulative and misleading that marketing is. The fact that billions are spent annually on the promotion of the "product" which drugs have become, rather than on research and education, is scandal enough. That scandal, while damaging to the health of the nation, is nonetheless obvious and in plain sight. What is astonishingly worse, however, is that the fundamental research which physicians depend on to form rational judgements has been perhaps fatally compromised. Drug companies have taken over the control and dissemination of research, and even our most august medical journals have been compromised by the drug companies' billions. As a physician I am in the position now of having doubts about the credibility of even what appears in The New England Journal of Medicine, which is, as all physicians know, an extremely sad state of affairs. Without credible information, and with the barrage of direct marketing to patients, we are no longer practicing science but PR with out patients, and we will all suffer. This book is very strong start in getting us out of this morass.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Now I understand why my doctors keep prescribing so many expensive new drugs, like Vioxx, Celebrex, and cholesterol lowering statins. We want to believe that doctors have the right information--this book explains how medical research has been taken over by the drug companies with the goal of selling more drugs, not necessarily improving our health. It shows how doctors can no more avoid the pro-drug bias in their medical journals and continuing education courses than the public can avoid all the drug advertising. And it shows how the majority of the experts who write the clinical guidelines that define good care (and that doctors follow to avoid getting sued) have financial ties to the drug companies, too.

The chapter that presents the real scientific evidence about preventing osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and diabetes provides particularly useful information about staying healthy. Overdosed America explains in clear language how the whole "system" works. It holds no punches.

I gave a copy to my doctor so that we can discuss these issues together. It is a total must read.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Abramson deserves a medal. If you trake any kind of prescription drug this is the book you must read. I was pretty cynical about the American drug industry but I had no idea how bad things have become. Even doctors today, as the book shows, can't get good information on drugs.

An enormous amount of money is involved, billions not millions of dollars. Your only recouse is knowledge, because our government will not protect us.

Dr. Abramson has written an explosive book. He shows how university research institutes and "peer review" experts have been corrupted and how the drug industry has degenerated into hucksterism. Do you remember three years ago how a "distinguished" panel of experts recommended that statin use in America triple? Well, Dr. Abramson read that research, followed all the footnotes, and found that the data in this 284-page report totally contradicted the summary which the media used and which doctors read. Unbelievable? If you have high cholestorol you must read this chapter.

Presciently, Dr. Abramson also has a chapter on Vioxx and Celebrex, written before things hit the fan for Merck and it was forced to recall Vioxx. But read the chapter on how this drug made it to market, read how even editors of medical journals were bamboozled.

The USA spends nearly three times more per capita on health care, compared to other industrialized societies, and is near the bottom in healthiness. Read the book for the details and how you can significantly improve your health. So be careful. It's a jungle out there, and you won't get much help from our government. Get informed. Your health depends on it. Thank you Dr. Abramson.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Overdosed America is a SPECTACULAR BOOK!!! Long overdue.

I'm glad to see there's someone (Dr. Abramson) who is as skeptical of Big Pharma as I am. I quit pharmacy after 25 years because I was so disillusioned.

I try to read every book I can find on Big Pharma. Overdosed America is the best. I found this book to be much more interesting than Marcia Angell's "The Truth About the Drug Companies" and Jerry Avorn's "Powerful Medicines."

This is the book that Big Pharma does not want you to read.

This book should be required reading for every pharmacist in America. Unfortunately too many pharmacists are not interested in learning the truth. In my opinion, Big Pharma has bamboozled pharmacists, doctors, and the public.

The media focuses on the high cost of prescription drugs. The more important issue is the questionable safety and effectiveness of too many of the products of the drug industry, and the fact that the most common diseases in advanced (i.e., industrialized or "Western") societies are preventable by non-drug measures.

In America, we've got the best drug research that money can buy. Commercial interests have polluted the scientific basis of modern medicine.

In the eyes of Big Pharma, "reality" is a totally elastic concept. After 30 years of reading about cover-ups, deceptions, lies, manipulations of data, exaggerations of benefits, minimizations of risks, etc., I honestly don't know why I should believe anything that the pharmaceutical industry says.

This is the most important book I've read on medicine in the last 30 years, since Ivan Illich's "Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health." (Pantheon, 1976)

If you want to really understand pharmaceuticals, you need to read this book. In my opinion, there is no book that describes the real world of pharmaceuticals better than Overdosed America.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was written before the Vioxx collaspe. Tells the story behind drugs like Vioxx. It is very sad. Drugs are marketed and promoted by drug companies for big money more so than they are marketed to help the public. Public service should come first and the big money second. However, it is all in reverse with the big money coming first and the public service coming second.

Always pay close attention to the side effects with drugs. Sometimes the side effects will make a drug not worth the investment in money, time and health risk to the consumer.

Dr. Abramson, the author, did painstaking research on this book. The USA spends nearly three times more money per capita on health care, compared to other advanced countries, but is near the bottom in the quality of healthcare received by its citizens. This book is explosive and a must read by all. There is no simple pill-popping way to achieve good health. Get informed on the things that you can really do to achieve good health such as diet, exercise and stress modifications.
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