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Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors And Harm Patients [Hardcover]

Ben Goldacre
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Signal; 1st Edition edition (2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771036299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771036293
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Ben Goldacre is a doctor and science writer who has written the ' Bad Science ' column in the Guardian since 2003. His work focuses on unpicking the evidence behind misleading claims from journalists, the pharmaceutical industry, alternative therapists, and government reports. He has made a number of documentaries for BBC Radio 4, and his book Bad Science reached Number One in the nonfiction charts, has sold over 500,000 copies, and is available in 22 countries.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
By andrewp
Format:Paperback
This is an impressive book on a serious subject which at times really is a matter of life and death. It can be read by anyone interested in the pharmaceutical industry, and doesn't require any previous knowledge of medicine or even science in general.

The tone is chatty enough to keep you interested, while remaining relatively well structured. I think you will get an idea of whether you would enjoy this book by first watching either of Ben Goldacre's TED talks: if you finish watching them and think "I want to know more" then this book is going to be just the thing for you.

There is no hint of conspiracy theory in this book. Goldacre sticks to a sober recounting of the problems, and he is meticulous about backing up what he says with references, with particular emphasis on systematic reviews, which is important given the subject matter of the book. He never gets into politics, but concentrates on actual, proven real-world harms and benefits.

I also appreciate that despite the massive size of the problems he's describing, he manages to avoid despair and gives recommendations appropriate for the different sections of his readership. I thought the section on conflicts of interest was subtly thought-out and proves that Goldacre is not simply "anti-pharma" and has considered carefully how things could actually be changed in practice.

It's by no means an uplifting and easy read, but it is a fantastic book and fully worth the effort. And who knows, even if you're not a healthcare professional, you may be able to contribute to solving these problems by raising awareness.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. P. J. A. Wicks VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Disclosure: I do patient reported outcomes research for top 20 pharma companies

I love science, and I love medicine. Truly, some of the most incredible inventions of our species have been the successful development of amazing compounds from antibiotics and antiretrovirals to insulin and levodopa to modern biologic drugs which help us to lead better lives despite illness. And yet, somewhere along the way, the industry that has arguably done the most to improve life for human beings (in the developed world at least) has taken a curious deviation away from science, and lost its way. As it turns out, marketing is more effective than science in persuading doctors to write prescriptions, and it's cheaper too. Full scale clinical trials are expensive, career-making (or ending), difficult, and time-consuming, and often fail to deliver anything like the transformational benefits that older (now cheap and generic) pills once did.

In this thoroughly researched, engaging, and intensely catalytic account, psychiatrist and truth-seeker Dr Ben Goldacre systematically diagnoses the faults not just with pharma, but with the entire system of evidence based medicine, in which none of us are blameless.

The broad brush strokes are that:

* Pharma builds clinical trials with what can kindly be described as "gamesmanship", systematically biases the literature by with-holding data, drags its feet to comply with transparency measures, ensures its message is heard clearer and louder than anyone else's, and on occasion gets caught doing things it knows it shouldn't.
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103 of 108 people found the following review helpful
By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A new drug is developed. You want to find out if it works. How can you tell? The answer is that you count. You take two groups of people with the illness, which you hope your drug will treat. You give one of them the drug and the other with a sugar pill. You count and compare the results. Who gets better and who stays ill in each group? Then you know - as much as one can know for sure - whether the treatment in question actually works.

Well, you do have a good idea if you have done the test fairly. Remember: you must count. If you want to rig the result, then you do not count properly. In science, you must keep a record of the misses as well as the hits. If you want to cheat, then don't count the misses. Only count the hits. Count those who seem to get well after being given your new drug but don't count those who don't. Worse, you don't count bad hits - side effects, for instance, which suggest that your new drug harms rather than cures. Hide unflattering data and only publish the data that make your drug look good.

But that's not all. You can compare your new drug against a placebo as opposed to a decent version of the same drug. You can stop the trial early if you get a run of good results before any bad results spoil things. You can measure surrogate outcomes - i.e. changes in blood pressure - rather than whether people live longer if they get your drug or not. You can pay ghost writers to write up the biased results from your trials and then get academics and medics to rubber-stamp them. You can get your marketing reps to assiduously cultivate doctors who are prepared to promote your particular drug.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay but boring and repetitive.
I guess news reporters, TV presenters, writers of best selling books and of course doctors need to be confident when presenting 'facts'
Goldacre certainly is. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Mr. I. Crowson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting (and horrifying read)
Ben Goldacre writes brilliantly. Engages the reader from the off and seems to really know how to get you riled up about the state of the pharmaceutical industry. Read more
Published 5 days ago by L Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important and complex subject, made accessible.
As I am - sadly - in a position to tell you, healthcare across the globe is undergoing a terrible crisis. Global pharmaceutical companies are in positions of great power. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Alex Brunel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Ben Goldacre's best book. 'Bad Science' introduces the ideas of evidenced based medicine (and science generally), but sticks to well known examples of misleading science. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book - it will open your eyes
This is a book that needs to be read! Gotzsches book on the same subject covers the issues more broadly but Goldacre has a specific UK focus. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Garthl
3.0 out of 5 stars Horse to water
As is his wont Goldacre supplies some decent cud with which much rumination can be undertaken. There's some tough stuff about the ills of the Pharmaceutical Industry which, it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Donald Bain
5.0 out of 5 stars Drug Companies Under the Spotlight
Make no mistake this book is the metaphorical foot in the door of a Colossal worldwide industry that literally affects lives. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G. D. Richards
4.0 out of 5 stars Frightening
The only thing I can fault in this book is Ben's tendency toward diplomacy. I think he's actually too kind to the pharmaceutical industry. Read more
Published 2 months ago by S.Coda
4.0 out of 5 stars this was a gift and the recipient was pleased with it. so overall,...
this was a gift and the recipient was pleased with it. so overall, pleased that I bought this and the price was compitive.
Published 2 months ago by ruth davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary stuff!
This is an excellently written book on a very interesting subject. The author does a great job of providing evidence for his claims.
Published 2 months ago by Joe
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