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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pharmageddon – David Healy

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of Dr David Healy's new book, Pharmageddon. It's taken me a while to read it due to other commitments.

Here's my review.

Pharmageddon – David Healy - University of California Press 2012

Pharmageddon is a meticulous look at the inside workings of the pharmaceutical industry and the way in which prescription drugs are marketed throughout the world and how this aids in the survival of some of the most richest and influential global organisations in the world today.

Dr David Healy, a Professor of Psychiatry at Cardiff University and the author of many publications, has painstakingly chartered the history of pharmaceutical wares and shows, in many instances, how ‘evidence-based’ medicines aren’t really evidence based at all. In fact, quite the contrary.

Clinical trials that were initially designed to find faults in a product have found their way into a world where time (and money) is of the essence and where trials carried out today appear to put the onus on the patient to report any faults in the product...after it has been granted a licence by the regulatory bodies...sometimes many years after its release into the market.

Medical journals, in which prescription drugs are often promoted as being safe and effective, have also played a huge role in the prescribing of drugs, that are, in many instances, not safe or effective at all.

Healy explains why this is so in a carefully crafted and extensively researched book that throws light on the internal misgivings of a complex industry where kickbacks and ghostwritten material are commonplace.

His walk through history and to present will leave the reader, be they professional or patient, in no doubt that Pharmageddon is just around the corner and we are, indeed, in our end days of pharmaceutical control and manipulation.

Pharmageddon is not a critique of the pharmaceutical per se but it does show how the dollar has become the main objective opposed to helping a patient battle an illness with drugs that, on many occasions, make the illness worse or, indeed, create a new illness for patients to deal with.

Many side effects to prescription drugs go unreported, more often than not those side effects are seen by healthcare professionals as a need to prescribe more drugs because they fail to see that the medications are actually making matters worse. Moreover, these same healthcare professionals are visited by pharmaceutical reps who, after leaving free gifts, tell them that their drugs are better than others, proving efficacy by pointing to opinions given by respected thought leaders that have published papers in medical journals showing how safe and effective the drug is.

It’s a marketing strategy played out to perfection by an industry whose promotional tools include marketing an illness before the product, to reel in prospective buyers of a future product.

The launch of Pharmageddon comes on top of Healy’s new website, RxISK, a domain that offers a reporting system for patients and doctors to report adverse reactions caused by a myriad of pharmaceutical products.

It is only by reading Healy’s book and using reporting systems such as Rxisk that the wheels of Pharmageddon can grind to a halt and that the concept of treating patients can return to the days of patient care rather than pharmaceutical profit.

Pharmageddon can be ordered via Amazon UK here or direct from the University of California Press, here.