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The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It Paperback – August 9, 2005
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Many Americans have wondered why prescription drugs have become so expensive while advertising for those drugs seems to grow exponentially. Former New England Journal of Medicine Editor Marcia Angell has some answers. The pharmaceutical industry, according to Angell, is fraught with corruption and doing a disservice to customers, the federal government, and to the medical establishment itself. In The Truth About the Drug Companies, Angell explains how a huge portion of the revenue generated by "Big Pharma" goes not into research and development but into aggressive marketing campaigns to sell their product. She describes how, even though the drug companies claim that it costs them an average of 802 million dollars per drug to develop new medicines, that figure is obscenely inflated since it factors in marketing as well as expected interest the company would have received had they invested the money in the open market. Meanwhile, Angell says, most of the R & D work is done by colleges and universities funded by the government. There are also problems with the drugs themselves, Angell indicates, since a majority are "me-too drugs", slightly modified versions of existing products which meant to address concerns of consumers most likely to spend money on pharmaceuticals. Thus, the market is filled with remarkably similar drugs to treat depression and high cholesterol while potentially life-saving medicines for diseases afflicting third-world countries are discontinued because they aren't profitable. In the books most damning passage, Angell tells of the high-priced junkets offered to doctors, ostensibly offered as educational opportunities that seem to constitute little more than bribes. The prognosis for reform is a grim one, Angell indicates, due to the massive cash reserves and lobbying efforts of "Big Pharma." Indeed, that lobby was hard at work trying to discredit her claims immediately upon the book's publication. But for anyone who's paid a pharmacy bill, The Truth About the Drug Companies is a fascinating read. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
In what should serve as the Fast Food Nation of the drug industry, Angell, former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, presents a searing indictment of "big pharma" as corrupt and corrupting: of Congress, through huge campaign contributions; of the FDA, which is funded in part by the very companies it oversees; and, perhaps most shocking, of members of the medical profession and its institutions. Angell delineates how the drug giants, such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca, pay physicians to prescribe their products with gifts, junkets and marketing programs disguised as "professional education." According to Angell, the cost of marketing, both to physicians and consumers, far outweighs expenditures on research and development, though drug makers invoke R&D as the reason drug prices are so high. In fact, says Angell, with combined 2002 profits of $35.9 billion for the Fortune 500's top 10 drug companies, the drug industry is America's most profitable by far, thanks to disproportionately high prices, generous tax breaks and manipulation of patents to extend exclusive marketing rights to blockbuster drugs like Prozac and Claritin. Angell mounts a powerful case (and offers specific suggestions) for reform of this essential industry—a case worth bearing in mind as "big pharma" continues to oppose importing cheaper drugs from Canada.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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From many other excellent reviews here you will know this is a must read! As one reviewer noted, it reads like a novel.....so the fiction lovers out there can delve into its details as well as those of us looking for factual marketing, political and current events reading.
Some additional notes: I'm a hospital-based anesthesiologist, and can assure readers that the tactics described herein are not limited to doctors' offices-type practices. This book does not address the techniques used by the industry to manipulate prices and costs within hospitals, but rest assured, the manipulations are there in a big way: limiting formularies, discontinuing effective and time-proven inexpensive drugs in favor of proprietary ones, marketing to non-physicians (accountants, CEO's) in a position to affect formulary decisions, etc.
There is a singular, but major criticism of this book, and that is the author's conclusion that more government involvement is one solution to reign in the excesses of the industry. This comes after the text's superior review of how government (FDA, NIH, congress-of course) has, in fact, been a major player in creating/perpetuating the problem in the first place! What a preposterous conclusion/how contradictory can one get? After recognizing, say Ted Bundy as a serial killer, would she want him chaperoning her teenage girls, using identical logic?! How much failure on the part of the criminals in congress does it take to understand that consumers (grandmothers--see earlier review), not bureaucrats, are the solution to the "fix" here?
IF YOU"RE A PHYSICIAN, this is necessarily mandatory reading. You've been hood-winked. More than that, your professional reputation and principles have been hijacked and perverted and you may very well have no clue as to the depths to which the industry has sunk to get its way at your expense. You will not practice the same after reading this book.
smart you will not support the pharmaceutical companies by buying their designer drugs
that highly expensive but very poorly researched. Know what you are buying, and why you
are using these drugs. It may save your life.