Book review

Post courtesy of Anne Taylor-Vaisey:

Hoey J. "The Truth about Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It" [review] New England Journal of Medicine October 7 2004;351(15):1580-1581.

Here is a new review by John Hoey of the CMAJ, of Marcia Angell's book, The Truth about Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. 305 pp. New York, Random House, 2004. $24.95. ISBN 0-375-50846-5.

Excerpt of the review: In this book, her most recent, Marcia Angell explores pharmaceutical research, deplores the rapidly expanding involvement (and distortion of truth) of Big Pharma, and implores us all (physicians, patients, politicians) to do something about it. The dust-jacket blurb asserts that Angell, "during her two decades at [the New England Journal of Medicine] had a front-row seat on the growing corruption of the pharmaceutical industry." Perhaps, but since leaving the Journal, she's gone behind the curtains of Big Pharma, Big University, and Big Faculty. Drawing on her own work and on her thoughtful analysis of research, company financial statements, and investigative reports into drug development and marketing, Angell writes with the unambiguous and unyielding style that Journal readers cam! e to expect and trust.

By Angell's account, the current slide toward the commercialization and corruption of clinical research coincided with the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the passage of the Bayh Dole Act, a new set of laws that permitted and encouraged universities and small businesses to patent discoveries from research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Research paid for by the public to serve the public instantly became a private, and salable, good, one that is producing drug sales of more than $200 billion a year.


But perhaps Angell is right. We must change the way we manage research and the development and distribution of new drugs. Not only are health and health care at risk, but so are the research enterprise and the reputations of universities and governments. The integrity of scientific research! is too important to be left to the invisible hand of the marketplace.

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