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Editor’s choice book review
The Truth About the Drug Companies
How They Deceive Us and What to do About it
Marcia Angell, MD is a former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine
and winner of the 2002 Polk Award for magazine reporting.
“What does the eight-hundred-pound gorrilla do? Anything it wants to.” These are the first words of Chapter One, innagurating the pages of this monumental book with metaphoric clear-seeing that is beyond deniability. Indeed, America has made the drug companies (aka “Big Pharma”) a political and
As part of a multifaceted strategy to
economic behemoth nearly prevent a loss of revenue, AstraZeneca
incapable of stopping. A staggering $200 billion is now
(makers of Prilosec, a heartburn drug)
spent on prescription medication a year, lining the pockets
developed an audacious plan. “The
of Big Pharma executives and milking an increasingly
company would take out a new patent on
parched cash cow. In The Truth About the Drug the active form of the Prilosec molecule, Companies
, Dr. Angell presents the grim details of Big
name it Nexium (it wouldn’t have done to
Pharma’s rise to power and the manipulative and downright
call it ‘Half-o’-Prilosec,’ but that’s what it
was), and promote it as an improvement
over Prilosec just in time to switch people
With a clarity of expression that makes the twists and turns
over before the Prilosec patent expired.
of an otherwise confusing pharmaceutical labyrinth The plan worked.” (Page 77)
comprehensible, Dr. Angell lays Big Pharma’s bones bare. She details how drugs are created not by the industry but by tax-payer supported institutions, just how un
-innovative the industry is, and the manner in which the industry exploits the very people it is supposed to be helping. High on the top of her hit list are the “Me-Too” drugs – new versions of old drugs that are given new names, higher prices, and enough hype that they become blockbusters on the top 10 drug list.
From the start, the reader is exposed to a disquieting and
“Once upon a time, drug companies
exasperating accounting of Big Pharma’s activities. Details jump
promoted drugs to treat diseases. Now
off the page, and if the reader can get beyond seeing red, the
it is often the opposite. They promote
facts start adding up to one giant, eight-hundred-pound gorilla’s
diseases to fit their drugs.” (Page 86)
mess: Big Pharma is swindling everyone, the government is letting it, and unless “We-the-People” rise up and do something
about it, it will only continue. An example of these pharma-attrocities?
• Most drugs are aimed at people with chronic conditions (e.g., depression, high cholesterol,
arthritis), because such conditions by their nature are not so serious that they’re imminently lethal, but they don’t go away, either. There’s a lot of money to be made there. (Page 83)
• Think your doctors always do what’s best for you? They’re “educated” by Big Pharma in the latest
drugs, which of course, then get prescribed most often. And just to keep things lucrative, the industry piles on the gifts: Free tickets to big games, family vacations in Hawaii, wads of cash. Where this would usually trigger red flags reading “bribery,” doctors think otherwise and continue to prescribe drugs with one hand while the other is openly waiting for the next big gift. (Page 128)
• The pharmaceutical industry has the largest lobby in Washington, by far. In 2002 it employed 675
lobbyists at a cost of over $91 million. That’s more than one lobbyist for each member of Congress. And who are these lobbyists? Many of them are former members of Congress or congressional staff. They definitely have close ties with a government reliant on pharmaceutical dollars. (Page 198)
In an age when an overwhelming proportion of
“In my view, we have become an overmedicated
the American population is popping drugs for
society….Patients have also been well taught…that if they
every conceibable sickness and discomfort,
don’t leave the doctor’s office with a prescription, the doctor is not doing a good job. The result is that too many people end up taking drugs when there may be better ways to deal with their problems.” (Pages 169-70)
The Truth About the Drug Companies
gives people even more reason to feel ill. With nearly prophetic and
unapologetic verve, Dr. Angell sets the record straight: Is the pharmaceutical industry controlling
government? Yes. Is it controlling medical schools and influencing doctors with incredibly biased
“educational” seminars? Yes. Is it making ridiculous amounts of money by dodging research costs,
milking the public, and forcing international trade laws to bend? Yes. But do we have to put up with it any
longer? No. And this declaration – saved until the final chapter of the book – is like a breath of much-
needed, drug-free air for a pharmaceutically-sickened audience.
__________________________ Ryan N. Harrison, MA is a Holistic Health Educator/Consultant with a private practice (). He has taught
nutrition and holistic health for many years in both online and traditional settings. He has his Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology and
certifications as a Nutritional Consultant, Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Counselor, Quantum-Touch Practitioner; he is also an
Advanced Practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). He currently serves as Editor of
Natural Healing Today magazine, and works
closely with DrNatura.com, a natural health e-commerce and information site.
Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease Corynebacterium macginleyi isolation from conjunctival swab in ItalyG.M. Giammancoa,*, V. Di Marcob, I. Priolob, A. Intrivicic, F. Grimontd, P.A.D. Grimontda Dipartimento di Igiene e Microbiologia “G. D’Alessandro”, Universita` di Palermo, Palermo, Italy b Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia “A. Mirri”, Palermo, Italy
The ideals of human perfectibility and of achievement are authentic anti-dotes to the existential anxiety of guilt. What is true for an individual isalso true for our institutions. This understanding of existential guilt willultimately lead us to measure all institutions – such as a business, thefamily, education, the law, commerce and politics – by the degree towhich they support the developm