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Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies: Prescription Drugs, Side Effects, and Your Health Hardcover – October 15, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Replete with information supported by recognized and reliable sources, this expos‚-cum-health guide should be read by anyone taking prescription medication. Cohen, an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, focuses on the practice of "standard dosing," i.e., the same number of milligrams prescribed for all patients; his articles about dosage have appeared in the New York Times and Newsweek. Asserting that different ages and conditions can affect how a drug is metabolized, and thus its effectiveness, Cohen advises to "Start Low, Go Slow." Lower doses often prove just as effective, and higher doses in the wrong person can be deadly. The chapters proceed logically, divided by families of drugs and, later, by FDA regulations, kickbacks to doctors from pharmaceutical companies, ghostwritten articles commissioned by pharmaceutical companies and attributed to independent doctors in trusted medical journals. Most importantly, Cohen discusses at length deadly and other irreversible side effects of new drugs, suggesting that warnings on drug packages are incomplete. He describes the pharmaceutical companies' practice of luring doctors to exotic weekend-long retreats for a two-hour symposium about a new product. Finally, Cohen gives insight into the doctor's Bible: The Physician's Desk Reference. Clear, easy narrative and anecdotal evidence makes this an accessible, albeit disturbing, read. This medical-biz gadfly delivers an invaluable resource for doctors and patients alike. (Oct. 15)Forecast: Given its nearly limitless potential audience, and with a national author tour kicked off by an appearance on the radio talk show People's Pharmacy, prominent display in stores could make sales take off.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Medications don't cause side effects their dosages do. That is the message sent by Cohen, a psychiatrist and professor of family medicine, in this repetitive but necessary expos of drug companies' marketing practices, physicians' prescribing behavior, and the inadequacy of dosing information in the Physicians' Desk Reference. Cohen argues that most adverse effects could be eliminated if doctors tailored a drug's dosage to an individual, but because manufacturers want to obtain approval for new drugs as quickly as possible, they do not perform adequate testing to determine the lowest effective amount. This can cause doctors to use a "one size fits all" mentality and prescribe like dosages for all patients. Cohen presents a plethora of practical information, including lower effective dosage recommendations for 53 top-selling drugs and a questionnaire for patients to determine how sensitive they are to medication. Numerous case studies, quotations from prominent researchers, and references support his premise that doctors should usually "start slow, go slow," and always individualize the dosage for each patient. Highly recommended for public and medical libraries. Natalie Kupferberg, Biological Sciences/ Pharmacy Lib., Ohio State Univ., Columbus
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 1 edition (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585421235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585421237
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I began working in pharmacy in the late 1960's. I helped dispense drugs at a retail drugstore in my home town and I did the same in the largest hospital in Chicago. I kept it up at another hospital and then started "doing" it on my own when I opened my retail store in 1983. I read the manufacturers' package inserts and I followed the prescriptions as they were ordered - and I noticed that many people had problems with the "recommended" dose. Sometimes they got used to the dose and sometimes it had to be changed. In any event, the recommended dose was not always accurate accurate - it was often dangerously WRONG.
I don't know what I thought about all the problems with prescription drugs. I guess I just presumed the patients were overly sensitive, or just unlucky. I didn't often think too much about it - until I became aware of Dr. Jay Cohen and his "Case Against the Drug Companies." His shocking book is called "OVER DOSE" and it describes in good detail the dangers of relying on the manufacturers' package inserts to prescribe drugs.
This is an "eye opener" book and it angers me. How is it that we have this overriding desire to place the bottom line above decent care for health? There are some great things happening in medicine - all around the world. But I think that all the good can be quickly undone by hanging on to a misguided philosophy that insists that profits trump everything else. Its time for a change and Dr. Cohen is part of the changing process. I promise to do my part for change. One thing is to expose potential problems (like Dr. Cohen has done) and another is to encourage people to think about the issues (that's my goal). Please get a copy of this book. Read it and then think about what it really means. When we reach a critical mass changes will happen. You can bank on it! (pun intended)
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Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for every practicing physician as well as for everyone who takes medicine. After reading this book, a major regret is that it was not available to me when I was first starting out in practice.It shames me to think how completely brainwashed I was by the drug companies. And I was not alone. All doctors in my acquaintenance seemed to share my misguided reverence for drug company marketing ploys. The essence of Doctor Cohen's message in this book is that we are all different in our reactions to drugs and the one size fits all mentality used for convenience by the drug industry inevitably results in underdosing some and overdosing others, frequently with serious or even lethal side effects. Start low, go slow is the author's message to doctors and I heartily endorse it.
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Format: Hardcover
Over Dose is a must read for anyone who uses either prescription or over-the-counter medications. Dr. Cohen's clear explanations about adverse effects resulting from the standardized high doses generally prescribed, and what to do about this, could save your life or that of a loved one. And Over Dose might shed light on why you or people you know suffer from certain health problems.
Actually, I found this rigorously researched book quite disturbing. It exposes deeply entrenched and shocking problems related to pharmaceuticals that pervade not only the health care system, but also clinical research. However, it also suggests solutions.
We desperately need a dose of reality -- even if it leaves a bitter aftertaste. Good medicine doesn't always taste sweet.
I say BRAVO to Dr. Cohen for the courage to publish this important work!
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By A Customer on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Finally, someone has put into print an accurate and factual picture of what the drug manufacturing industry does to place profits way ahead of patient benefit and safety. Anyone who takes prescription medications should read this book. Maybe it gets a little too technical in spots for people not in the health professions, but there is plenty of excellent information and suggestions to make this a very valuable reference for consumer-oriented patients.
I am a doctoral-level clinical pharmacist, and I found myself in agreement with most all of what Dr. Cohen has written and recommended in this book. This should be required reading for every practicing physician, medical student, pharmacist, and nurse in the country. Medical schools should add this to their curriculum for all of our doctors-to-be to read before they take their pharmacology course and start their clinical training.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that illuminates a dark and widespread problem in the use of prescription medication: Namely, that many people are harmed by taking a far larger dose of their prescription medication than is necessary to obtain the desired level of benifit. The result of this overdose is an epidemic of side effects that are for the most part preventable.
If you do not think the problem of drug reactions and side effects is a bad problem- think again! As Dr. Cohen writes, every day an estimated 300 people die from bad side effects of medication is given in the hospital alone!
Dr. Cohens book 1) discusses the problem that exists, 2) offers various remedies to the problem, and 3) offers a simple and effective solution that can allow you to work with your Medical Doctor in order to tailor the dose of your medications to your individual needs.
I highly recommend this book!
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