Using the examples of Vioxx, Celebrex, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, and anti-depressants, Overdosed America shows that at the heart of the current crisis in American medicine lies the commercialization of medical knowledge itself.
Drawing on his background in statistics, epidemiology, and health policy, John Abramson, M.D., reveals the ways in which the drug companies have misrepresented statistical evidence, misled doctors, and compromised our health. The good news is that the best scientific evidence shows that reclaiming responsibility for your own health is often far more effective than taking the latest blockbuster drug.
You—and your doctor—will be stunned by this unflinching exposé of American medicine.
"Guilty Pleas Seen for Drug Maker"; "Merck Says It Will Post the Results of All Drug Trials": As these headlines show, the business of medicine is news. Several forthcoming books (led off by Marcia Angell's The Truth About the Drug Companies, PW Forecasts, Aug. 2) look critically at the backstory: the impact of profits on medical care in America. OVERDOSED AMERICA: The Broken Promise of American MedicineJohn Abramson. HarperCollins, (352p) According to Abramson, Americans are overmedicated and overmedicalized as a result of the commercialization of health care. Falling prey to marketing campaigns, we demand unnecessary and expensive drugs and procedures, believing they constitute the best possible medical care. Wrong, says Abramson: though more post heart attack procedures are performed in the U.S. than in Canada, one-year survival rates are the same. Similarly, notes Abramson, a former family practitioner who teaches at Harvard Medical School, we spend more on high-tech neonatology than other Western countries but have a higher infant-mortality rate because of inattention to low-tech prenatal care. Abramson deconstructs the scientific sleight of hand in presenting clinical trial results that leads to the routine prescription of pricey cholesterol-lowering drugs even when their effectiveness has not been proven; he examines what he calls "supply-sensitive medical services" the near-automatic use of medical technologies, such as cardiac catheterization, less because they are needed than because they are available. Abramson's bottom line: "More care doesn't necessarily mean better care." Arguing firmly that doctors should focus more on lifestyle changes to improve health, Abramson seems less credible when he writes off depression as "exercise-deficiency disease" and disposes of cancer in little more than a page. Still, he makes a powerful and coherent case that American medicine has gone badly astray and needs a new paradigm one untainted by profits.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Must-read for anyone who care about health
Still flabbergasted from this book I finished a week ago, "OVERDO$ED AMERICA" by John Abramson, M.D., a family doctor and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. He brilliantly debunks the myth of excellence in American health care, subverted by the commercialization of medicine, pharmaceutical companies, and seemingly illegal, yet legal financial ties among the drug industry, FDA, academic experts, prominent medical journals and NIH. How absurd is it that although we spend more on health care than other industrialized countries, the overall health of Americans have declined since 1960. U.S. is the only industrialized country without universal health care for its citizens, which hopefully will change with the full implementation of ACA in January. Some facts that shocked me are 1) drug companies lure doctors with "educational" dinners, weekends in the luxury resorts, sporting events, and golf and ski outings to get them prescribe more expensive brand-name drugs, even when cheaper drugs are more effective. 2) Drug companies purchase from local pharmacies individual doctors' prescribing information so they know exactly what doctors prescribe, and measure their influence on doctors. 3) More than half of the budget of FDA's division that reviews new drug applications and writes clinical guidelines to define good medical care are funded by the drug companies, whose drugs are being evaluated. Abramson calls for restoration of the integrity of medical science, exhorts readers to claim a lifestyle of regular exercise, a healthier diet, and no smoking, and think critically about what our individual health needs and goals are versus what the drug companies tell us we need. Health care professionals or not, anyone who deals with the American health care system should pick up this book.