Sunday, May 4, 2008

Recommended Reading - Selling Sickness

I read this book, chapter by chapter, as a starting point for a few articles I've done. Combined with the background given me by Laurie Garret's tome on the public health infrastructure, Betrayal of Trust, I have been able to search for more information including legislative decisions, FDA approvals and recalls, and even clinical data files.

It absolutely amazes me the extent to which the regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies fail the consuming public. Consumerism has changed medicine into an industry focused on business and profits, rather than a profession based on helping sick people get well or preventing healthy people from getting sick. I received my graduate degree from a medical school and I have taken courses with future doctors...I even taught future doctors! And I am appalled at the undermining that will occur when they have lives in their hands. Companies pay for conferences and "educate" about their medications and the diseases they treat. Companies hire PR and marketing firms to create new names for disorders and diseases so they will sell better. The FDA approves new treatments based on promises instead of results. Then later recalls some because they end up killing patients they were supposed to help.

I believe that the researchers working on the treatments truly want to create cures and real medicine. I believe that most doctors get into medicine to help people. I believe that the firms doing the selling are not trying to injure people. But when someone who knows nothing about medicine is told to take an idea and run with it...that is exactly what happens. People get hurt. And those people are downplayed in memos, made fearful by ambiguous commercials, and humored by paid representatives.

I recommend reading Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning Us All Into Patients by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. It will give you control of your own health.

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