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Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814736692
ISBN-10: 0814736696
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Healy confirms his status as one longtime thorn in the side of big drug companies, recounting how he was initially enthusiastic about SSRIs but eventually grew concerned about their side effects.”
-Psychology Today



“Physicians should be aware of Let Them Eat Prozac.”
-JAMA



Let Them Eat Prozac is a double-pronged exploration, first of the SSRI drugs used to treat depression, and second of the drug industry.”
-Publishers Weekly



“A compelling story about mystery, deception, death, disappointment, vindication, and uncertainty.”
-The American Psychological Association



&8220;Stirring firsthand account of the SSRI wars. . . . Healy is a distinguished research and practicing psychiatrist, university professor, frequent expert witness, former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology, and author of three books in the field. Instead of shrinking from commercial involvement, he has consulted for, run clinical trials for, and at times even testified for most of the major drug firms. But when he pressed for answers to awkward questions about side effects, he personally felt Big Pharma’s power to bring about a closing of ranks against troublemakers. That experience among others has left him well prepared to puncture any illusions about the companies' benevolence or scruples.”
-New York Review of Books

About the Author

David Healy is professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University and a former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. He is the author of over 120 articles and 12 books, including The Antidepressant Era and The Creation of Psychopharmacology.

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Product Details

  • Series: Disease and Desire
  • Hardcover: 351 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814736696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814736692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,001,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having been a pharmacist for 24 yrs I can say with depressing certainty that MDs have absolutely minimal understanding of the drugs they prescribe. They receive only the barest instruction in pharmacology in med school, and the majority of their ongoing drug education seems to come from pharmaceutical reps. This book just further validates observations I have already made about the side effects of Prozac and its cousins. The detail involved in the handling of the subject matter may be too technical for the casual reader but would be fascinating to healthcare professionals and attorneys. It underscores the penalties to be paid by honest researchers and healthcare professionals in this market-driven economy by those who dare to challenge the data put out by companies with huge profits to make and to protect--and who also have the financial resources to ruin anyone who tells the truth about their products. It reinforces what should be a guiding principal in most areas of life: before believing what you are told, ask who profits by your gullibility and need. And do not be too quick to distrust your own instincts and observations.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Healy is a proponent of drug use for patients with depression or other disorders. When a drug calms a person down or energizes her - in a good way - he says "that's a good drug for that person". He has been a leading figure in psychopharmacology for many years, in part because of sponsorship by drug companies. He has a great deal of experience prescribing Prozac, Zoloft, and other antidepressants for a variety of conditions.

Healy is also a dedicated, conscientious doctor. So when he first read reports of persons who behaved unaccountably when on Prozac or another Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), he naturally wanted to know why. It wasn't long before he had embarked on a research trek that led him to the inescapable conclusion that Prozac increases a patient's risk for suicide and violence. He tells the story of his journey almost like he is writing a suspense novel, and its grip is hard to shake.

Healy noticed that the "suicidal ideation" related to the use of Prozac was different from the non-drug induced suicide. Normal suicidal behavior takes into account the effect of this action on others, while drug-induced suicide and violent actions show a complete disregard for anyone else. Normal suicidal behavior is repeated - that is, an actual suicide typically follows at least one attempt. The cases that Healy followed, by contrast, were of normal people who had usually never attempted suicide before. Their behavior shortly before the attempted or actual suicide was described as strange and unlike them, almost as if they were possessed.
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Format: Hardcover
Since I am acquainted with the issues of antidepressants as someone with dysthymia, I decided it might be interesting to read the "other" side of the story. To that end, I just finished Let Them Eat Prozac - The Unhealthy Relationship Between The Pharmaceutical Industry And Depression by David Healy. Interesting stuff here...

Healy is listed as a former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology and has written a number of articles and books on the subject. He's also been on the prescribing end of antidepressants, so I don't see (at least on the surface) any particular conflict of interest that might color his statements and conclusions. The book is part a personal story of his experience with the drug Prozac and its parent company Lilly, as well as an expose of how pharmaceutical companies are able to distort facts and studies to present misleading results on drug testing. The main thrust of this book is how Prozac and SSRI drugs in general show a strong increase in the rate of suicidal tendencies in users during the first few weeks of use. But looking at the information from the drug companies, you'd never know it. Based on creative manipulation of statistics, the suicide rates were presented as far less than they really were. And even now that Prozac has gone off patent and is now available in its generic form of fluoxetine, he still claims that little is known about the long-term effects of the drug, and who might be held responsible if issues arise down the road.

Coming into this book, I was ready to write him off as a conspiracy nut with an axe to grind. I was given fluoxetine nearly two years ago to help me deal with chronic low-level depression, and it's been a lifesaver.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This important book undermines its effectiveness by jumbling together several distinct story lines:
1. The influence of pharmaceutical money on science and the practice of medicine.
2. The value of antidepressants versus their troubling side effects, most notably suicidality.
3. The legal battles over (a) the "Prozac defense" and (b) product liability of Lilly for adverse drug reactions.
4. Dr. Healy's personal travails as a result of his concerns about the safety of SSRI's.

Jumbling these related-but-different issues together results in a murky book, in which none of the four stories emerges clearly.

In general, Dr. Healy's views on these issues seem to be
1. Pharmaceutical money has badly corrupted both science and clinical practice.
2. Antidepressants and other psychotropics are important tools, but because the science and clinical practice have been skewed by pharmaceutical companies, they are over-prescribed, mis-prescribed, and generally used injudiciously.
3. The only reason his side has lost the legal battles that it has lost is the corrupt influence of pharma, and
4. He got screwed by the Evil powers.

I found the cases he made for points 1 and 2 (if I teased them out of the murk correctly) fairly persuasive, the case for point 3 provocative but not entirely compelling, and the case for point 4 hard to judge.

If you have a fair amount of patience and a serious interest in the different story lines Dr. Healy addresses, and if you know enough about the methodological issues involved in different ways of doing research to evaluate his criticisms of the preferred methodologies of pharmaceutical-funded research, the book is certainly worth reading. Otherwise, I suspect you will find the book more confusing and (probably) misleading than enlightening.
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