Book Review: Bad Pharma

Bad Pharma: How Companies Mislead Doctors And Harm Patients, by Ben Goldcare

As the second book I have read from the author [1] and the fourth book overall in related topics concerning corruption in contemporary medicine [2], it is helpful that the author summarized his point clearly near the end of this lengthy (almost 400 page) book: “It’s hard to imagine a betrayal more elaborate, or more complete, across so many institutions and professions. This is a story of pay-offs, of course, but more than that, it’s a story of complacency, laziness, banal self-interest, and people feeling impotent. You have been failed by the people at the very top of my profession, for decades now, on matters of life and death, and as with the banks, we’re suddenly discovering a terrifying reality. Nobody took responsibility, nobody was in control, but everybody knew something was wrong. We only have one hope, though it’s a small one: you.”

This is the sort of book that makes me hopping mad. Its contents are well-documented, told in a restrained but obvious and consistent outrage, and deal with something that bothers me intensely. At its heart, this is a book about people who knowingly withhold information that would help others make wise decisions because that information is not friendly to their own personal interests. Instead they tease and make false promises to change, pretend like everything is alright, and actively interfere with others finding out useful and worthwhile information. They distract people with glitzy advertising and seductive honeypots [3] and generally have corrupted an important area of life for their own personal and selfish benefit. That is the sort of modus operendi that makes me boiling mad, even if at times there is not much that can be done about it.

In terms of its contents, this book is thorough and damning. It is damning because it does not go after sensational cases but seeks to show the banality of the evil of the corruption spread by pharmaceutical companies through secrecy about data, shifting the goalposts in the middle of studies, having ghostwriters create academic papers and attach the name of a supposedly independent academic, bribe lobbyists, send attractive young women to flirt with doctors and get them to prescribe certain medications, sponsor patients groups and the required professional education for doctors, engage in a revolving door with educational and governmental institutions, and numerous other acts of misconduct small and large. The author throws his own corrupt coworkers under the bus by exposing illegal gifts (namely, laptops) received from business relationships, talks about an ex-girlfriend who enjoyed getting drunk with the people who made professional guidelines in the field of medicine, and even shows memos and documents to show the sad state of transparency and openness in the field of drug research. One of the greatest aspects of this book is that it features a great deal of practical suggestions for readers, even if those can be difficult to follow. Still, most of them involving being a pain and bringing attention to dark areas of life so that they can be openly dealt with. Count me in.


[2] See also:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Bad Pharma

  1. Pingback: With Suspicious Minds | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: How Healing Works | Edge Induced Cohesion

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