Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine

by John Abramson
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Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 'Overdosed America' Dr. John Abramson is mainly concerned with accuracy of information about prescription drugs and about medical devices and procedures in the United States. He shows how drug and device makers manipulate information to present their products favorably. Dr. Abramson leverages experience in public health policy, closely analyzing FDA fast-track approval of painkillers including Celebrex in 1998 and the now withdrawn Vioxx in 1999 'pages 23-38' and NIH revisions to cholesterol guidelines in 2001 'pages 129-148'. For those cases, Dr. Abramson provides detailed readings of published studies, showing how drug benefits were promoted and hazards minimized. * * * * * * * * * Dr. Abramson's most egregious example concerns hazards of Vioxx. A key report about Vioxx appeared November 23, 2000, in the New England Journal of Medicine, then as now edited by Dr. Jeffrey Drazen. It included information about potential hazards. An apparently authoritative review article about Vioxx and Celebrex appeared August 9, 2001, in the same journal, with updated hazard information. The latter article said increased incidence of cardiovascular events associated with Vioxx 'may reflect the play of chance.' From data published in the latter article Dr. Abramson found that the cardiovascular hazard from Vioxx was statistically significant, unlikely to represent chance occurrences. However, FDA action on the information was delayed until September, 2004, when Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market because of its cardiovascular hazard. On December 8, 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine published a belated 'Expression of Concern' saying authors of the November 23, 2000, article had omitted data which they then possessed, showing a greater incidence of cardiovascular events. * * * * * * * * * Writing before the 2005 disclosure, Dr. Abramson was incensed. Poring over information made available to the public by the FDA, he had already found that the FDA knew of a substantial cardiovascular hazard when Vioxx was approved. Members of the medical community had little access to this knowledge, unless willing to spend hours in background research as Dr. Abramson did, and the general public knew even less. Articles appearing in a major medical journal had promoted benefits of Vioxx and minimized hazards. Dr. Abramson reports pressure from his patients to prescribe Vioxx, inspired by advertising. He accuses 'commercial medical research' of 'rigging medical studies, misrepresenting...results' and 'withholding...findings' 'page xvii'. * * * * * * * * * Dr. Abramson's proposed remedy is a new federal agency 'to protect the public's interest in medical science' 'page 250'. It would set standards for 'medical research,' oversee development of 'clinical guidelines,' and initiate research 'when important scientific evidence was lacking.' While describing this new agency, Dr. Abramson does not say but appears to mean by 'medical research' mainly 'clinical trials' for prescription drugs and medical devices, not the basic research programs sponsored by the NIH and other agencies. The key power of the new agency over prescription drugs and medical devices would be certifications that clinical trials met its standards. * * * * * * * * * Dr. Abramson makes three more general recommendations to improve health care: a 'rebalanced' 'mix of physicians,' financial rewards to health care providers for 'improving the health' of their patients, and 'adequate, stable funding' of the FDA and NIH, replacing [prescription drug and medical device] 'industry money' 'pages 255-256'. Dr. Abramson does not provide guidance for making such changes. Instead he calls for 'courageous leadership' from someone else, inviting 'public hearings' investigating the Celebrex and Vioxx approval processes and investigating 'commercial bias in the 2001 update to the cholesterol guidelines.' * * * * * * * * * Despite the intensity of his investigations, Dr. Abramson does not seem t
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overdosed America is a SPECTACULAR BOOK!!! Long overdue. I'm glad to see there's someone (Dr. Abramson) who is as skeptical of Big Pharma as I am. I quit pharmacy after 25 years because I was so disillusioned. I try to read every book I can find on Big Pharma. Overdosed America is the best. I found this book to be much more interesting than Marcia Angell's 'The Truth About the Drug Companies' and Jerry Avorn's 'Powerful Medicines.' This is the book that Big Pharma does not want you to read. This book should be required reading for every pharmacist in America. Unfortunately too many pharmacists are not interested in learning the truth. The media focuses on the high cost of prescription drugs. The more important issue is the questionable safety and effectiveness of too many of the products of the drug industry, and the fact that the most common diseases in advanced (i.e., industrialized or 'Western') societies can be prevented with non-drug measures. In America, we've got the best drug research that money can buy. Commercial interests have polluted the scientific basis of modern medicine. In the eyes of Big Pharma, 'reality' is a totally elastic concept. After 30 years of reading about cover-ups, deceptions, lies, manipulations of data, exaggerations of benefits, minimizations of risks, etc., I honestly don't know why I should believe anything that the pharmaceutical industry says. Overdosed America is the most important book I've read on medicine in the last 30 years, since Ivan Illich's 'Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health.' (Pantheon, 1976) If you want to really understand pharmaceuticals, you need to read this book. In my opinion, there is no book that describes the real world of pharmaceuticals better than Overdosed America.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a twenty year veteran of health journalism for national magazines, I have become increasingly suspicious that I can no longer trust leading medical journals, the FDA, or even the advice of my own doctors. I have been struggling to put together all the pieces of this puzzle--and despite massive reading on the subject it took John Abramson's erudite book to illuminate this immensely complicated issue for me. This is by far the best book I have ever read on this topic and should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why health care in this country costs so much and delivers so little. This book holds the answers to how the price of medical care could be slashed while quality of care significantly improved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was recommened his book by a fellow Physician (FP). Book was very engaging and interesting. It spells out a lot of things that we kind of know but don't want to believe. Must read book for physicians and Medical Students.