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The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It

by Marcia Angell (Author)



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review
Many Americans have wondered why prescription drugs have become so expensive
while advertising for those drugs seems to grow exponentially. Former New
England Journal of Medicine Editor Marcia Angell has some answers. The
pharmaceutical industry, according to Angell, is fraught with corruption and
doing a disservice to customers, the federal government, and to the medical
establishment itself. In The Truth About the Drug Companies, Angell explains how
a huge portion of the revenue generated by "Big Pharma" goes not into research
and development but into aggressive marketing campaigns to sell their product.
She describes how, even though the drug companies claim that it costs them an
average of 802 million dollars per drug to develop new medicines, that figure is
obscenely inflated since it factors in marketing as well as expected interest
the company would have received had they invested the money in the open market.

Meanwhile, Angell says, most of the R & D work is done by colleges and
universities funded by the government. There are also problems with the drugs
themselves, Angell indicates, since a majority are "me-too drugs", slightly
modified versions of existing products which meant to address concerns of
consumers most likely to spend money on pharmaceuticals. Thus, the market is
filled with remarkably similar drugs to treat depression and high cholesterol
while potentially life-saving medicines for diseases afflicting third-world
countries are discontinued because they aren't profitable. In the books most
damning passage, Angell tells of the high-priced junkets offered to doctors,
ostensibly offered as educational opportunities that seem to constitute little
more than bribes. The prognosis for reform is a grim one, Angell indicates, due
to the massive cash reserves and lobbying efforts of "Big Pharma." Indeed, that
lobby was hard at work trying to discredit her claims immediately upon the
book's publication. But for anyone who's paid a pharmacy bill, The Truth About
the Drug Companies is a fascinating read. --John Moe --This text refers to the
Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly
In what should serve as the Fast Food Nation of the drug industry, Angell,
former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, presents a
searing indictment of "big pharma" as corrupt and corrupting: of Congress,
through huge campaign contributions; of the FDA, which is funded in part by the
very companies it oversees; and, perhaps most shocking, of members of the
medical profession and its institutions. Angell delineates how the drug giants,
such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca, pay physicians to prescribe their products with
gifts, junkets and marketing programs disguised as "professional education."
According to Angell, the cost of marketing, both to physicians and consumers,
far outweighs expenditures on research and development, though drug makers
invoke R&D as the reason drug prices are so high. In fact, says Angell, with
combined 2002 profits of $35.9 billion for the Fortune 500's top 10 drug
companies, the drug industry is America's most profitable by far, thanks to
disproportionately high prices, generous tax breaks and manipulation of patents
to extend exclusive marketing rights to blockbuster drugs like Prozac and
Claritin. Angell mounts a powerful case (and offers specific suggestions) for
reform of this essential industry—a case worth bearing in mind as "big pharma"
continues to oppose importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

Product Details

Paperback: 319 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (August 9, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375760946

 

 

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