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Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients

by Ray Moynihan (Author), Alan Cassels (Author)



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
This accessible study about the collusion between medical science and the drug
industry emphasizes how drug companies market their products by either
redefining problems as diseases (like female sexual dysfunction) or redefining a
condition to encompass a greater percentage of the population. Moynihan, a
health journalist for the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, and
Cassels, a Canadian science writer, note, for instance, that eight of the nine
specialists who wrote the 2004 federal guideline on high cholesterol, which
substantially increased the number of people in that category, have multiple
financial ties to drug manufacturers. Physicians now routinely prescribe
cholesterol-lowering pills (statins) that may have perilous side effects, when
many people could lower their risk of heart attack with less costly and
dangerous steps, such as exercise and improved diet. Through aggressive
merchandising, funding of medical conferences and expensive perks, drug
companies win doctors over to diagnosing these "diseases" and prescribing drugs
for them. Unfortunately for these authors, much of this territory has been
covered by several books in the past year, most notably Marcia Angell's The
Truth About the Drug Companies

From Booklist
Science and medicine writers Moynihan and Cassels conjecture that most Americans
believe, based on information gleaned from a deluge of pharmaceutical-company
advertisements, that conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol,
menopause, and chronic constipation are bona fide diseases. They quote reputable
medical experts, however, who refute such understandings. What's more, they
suggest that billions of precious and diminishing health-care dollars are
squandered treating those nondiseases of healthy, wealthy Americans and would be
better spent treating the legitimately sick poor and fighting the international
AIDS epidemic. Quoting former Merck CEO Henry Gadsen--who, in a 1976 Fortune
article, confessed that "it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy
people. Because then, Merck would be able to 'sell to everyone'"--they lay the
blame for the misdirected billions at the feet of just such pharmaceutical
giants as Merck. Finally, they counterpoint glossy pharmaceutical ad campaigns
with alternatives that consumers may consider before asking their doctors for
prescription drugs they saw touted on TV.

Product Details

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Nation Books; 1 edition (June 22, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 156025856X

 

 

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