John LaMattina's lengthy career in the pharmaceutical industry had prepared him for close encounters of many kinds, but nothing could have prepared him for his encounter with Dr. Oz. Perhaps it was ignorance that led him to believe that his appearance on one of Dr. Oz's television segments would be relatively benign, but he had another thing coming. Next time, no doubt, LaMattina will ask questions. A lot of them. Undoubtedly shock set in once he realized that he, along with big pharma, was the target of the day. Monstrous villains, evil money-mongers who were only out for one thing ... themselves and that buck. Right on down the yellow brick road LaMattina went in an effort to explain away the "Four Secrets That Drug Companies Don't Want You to Know."
The statements, of course, were inflammatory and LaMattina answered them as best he could. The audience reaction clearly indicated that the questions needed further explanation. This book is a result of those four questions. I had only one problem with this book and that was to keep people from walking off with it before I had finished it. It is not a lengthy tome and in fact it can be read in a day if one is so inclined. It is written with the layman in mind, yet has sufficient references for those who wish to explore the topic further. The risks to the public, who may have decided to discard prescribed medications as a result of the show, were plentiful. LaMattina lamented that "oftentimes diet and exercise are not sufficient to reduce the risk of these diseases [diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, etc.]; and at some point specific medicines may be required to restore a person's health to prevent long-term consequences of the disease." (p. 15)
LaMattina decided to discuss many of the issues big pharma faces, particularly in R & D. The first thought that came to mind was that he would be biased wholly toward pharma, but I found the discussion to be extremely informative without being inflammatory. He fully acknowledges the shortcomings of the industry, but also is quick to point our "the value the biopharmacceutical industry adds to improving the world's health." (p.58) Historically, the discussion mainly focuses on the last decade, but has snippets relative to what is going on today. I found his insight to be invaluable, particularly because of his insider view of the pharmaceutical industry as the former president of Pfizer's Global R & D Division.
I felt LaMattina sat down and asked himself those difficult questions we all are curious about. I ended up being quite enamored with this book and learned much more than I ever thought I would (or would want to) about the big pharma and R & D. The writing was in what I call a conversational format. The let-me-tell-you-about-what-I-know attitude had me mesmerized. I definitely came away feeling more comfortable with the industry and LaMattina left few stones unturned. It was probably a good thing that he never asked what Dr. Oz's segment was about or we wouldn't have this amazing book.
"Four Secrets That Drug Companies Don't Want You to Know."
1. Drug companies underestimate dangerous side effects.
2. Drug companies control much of the information your doctor gets.
3. You're often prescribed drugs that you don't need.
4. Drugs target the symptoms, not the cause.
CHAPTER 1: THE FOUR SECRETS THE DRUG COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW
Drug Companies Underestimate Dangerous Side Effects
Drug Companies Control Much of the Information Your Doctor Gets
You're Often Prescribed Drugs That You Don't Need
Drugs Target the Symptoms, Not the Cause
CHAPTER 2: WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO R&D PRODUCTIVITY?
Impact of Mergers on R&D Productivity
Heightened FDA Requirements for NDAs
Higher Hurdles Set by Payers
CHAPTER 3: KEY THERAPEUTIC AREAS FOR IMPROVING HEALTH
Diseases of the Brain
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
CHAPTER 4: IMPROVING R&D OUTPUT
The Views of Others
Pharma's Blockbuster Mentality Needs to Change
Can "Predictive Innovation" Lead to Greater Success Rates?
Would Royalties Make Scientists More Productive?
Will Drug Repositioning Help Fill the R&D Pipeline?
Consultants Don't Always Have the Facts
Discovery Must Focus on Productivity
Does Size Help or Hinder R&D Productivity?
To Outsource or Not to Outsource? That's the Pharma R&D Question
Big Pharma Early Research Collaborations
CHAPTER 5: RESTORING PHARMA'S IMAGE
Illegal Detailing of Drugs
Pharmaceutical Companies Should Drop TV Ads
The Need for Greater Transparency
How Committed Is Big Pharma to Rare Diseases?
Pharmaceutical Companies and Philanthropy
Pharma Needs to Have Its Scientists Tell Their Stories
CHAPTER 6: FINAL THOUGHTS