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The Drugs Don't Work (Penguin Special): A Global Threat (Penguin Shorts/Specials) [Kindle Edition]

Professor Dame Sally Davies , Jonathan Grant , Mike Catchpole
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A horror story . . . A startling and disturbing read (Scotsman)

Gets across a single point with devastating effect . . . A highly important message that, for a start, every MP and GP should be reading (

If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again (David Cameron, Prime Minister)

Product Description

The Drugs Don't Work - A Penguin Special by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England

'If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again' David Cameron, Prime Minister

Resistance to our current range of antibiotics is the new inconvenient truth. If we don't act now, we risk the health of our parents, our children and our grandchildren.

Antibiotics add, on average, twenty years to our lives. For over seventy years, since the manufacture of penicillin in 1943, we have survived extraordinary operations and life-threatening infections. We are so familiar with these wonder drugs that we take them for granted. The truth is that we have been abusing them: as patients, as doctors, as travellers, in our food.

No new class of antibacterial has been discovered for twenty six years and the bugs are fighting back. If we do not take responsibility now, in a few decades we may start dying from the most commonplace of operations and ailments that can today be treated easily.

This short book, which will be enjoyed by readers of An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre, will be the subject of a TEDex talk given by Professor Dame Sally Davies at the Royal Albert Hall.

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England and the first woman to hold the post. As CMO she is the independent advisor to the Government on medical matters with particular interest in Public Health and Research. She holds a number of international advisory positions and is an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College.

Dr Jonathan Grant is a Principal Research Fellow and former President at RAND Europe, a not-for-profit public policy research institute. His main research interests are on health R&D policy and the use of research and evidence in policymaking. He was formerly Head of Policy at The Wellcome Trust. He received his PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, University of London, and his B.Sc. (Econ) from the London School of Economics.

Professor Mike Catchpole is an internationally recognized expert in infectious diseases and the Director of Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control at Public Health England. He has coordinated many national infectious disease outbreak investigations and is an advisor to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. He is also a visiting professor at Imperial College.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 167 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241969190
  • Publisher: Penguin (15 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,121 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warning that will probably be ignored 29 Sept. 2013
By Brian Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a Penguin Special, a deliberately slim book that gets across a single point with devastating effect. Sally Davies (I really can't call her 'Professor Dame' like the cover does - it makes her sound like a character from a pantomime) ought to know what she's talking about when it comes to antibiotics, as she is the Chief Medical Officer for England.

We start with a stark little story of life in the 2040s when all the antibiotics have failed and even what appears to be a harmless throat infection could result in isolation and death. Davies then takes us swiftly through the history of antibiotics and the various nasties we have to face up against.

In case it's not obvious by now, the theme is that our over-use of antibiotics is resulting in growing resistance building up in more and more diseases. At the same time, there really isn't a lot of work going into the next generation of drugs, as it isn't a hugely profitable thing for pharma companies to do.

Left with only the current facts we are presented with a dire situation, particularly for the next generations. However, Davies does come up with a range of possibilities for making things better, from the simplest aspects like washing our hands more effectively through to means to encourage production of the next generation of antibiotics. The trouble is, these positive bits seem to me to be primarily filled with the optimism of the scientific professional, rather than a reflection of the political reality. Specifically, I think unless we see Bill Gates and his equivalents pouring vast amounts into the research we won't get very far until things start going horribly wrong.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pill Popper 19 Mar. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A skinny book in the Penguin Specials genre which spells out a single message - but not exhaustively. The message is,"Germs" are becoming resistant to "antibiotics". Examples are given and some of the reasons why are explained.Basically these appear to be, biology, misuse and complacency.
The prose can be a bit turgid and the pace overwhelming. Content flows somewhat erratically between the technical specialisms and the mundane.
The structure would have benefited from a more thought through layout - diagrams, headings, bullet points, etc More of a PowerPoint presentation than a constant fast jog through a very varied and complex landscape. On occasions it's a bit like being trapped at the bar with a bloke who's a single issue fanatic. An index would have been useful.
Nevertheless it is a startling read. Some issues are depressingly simple in fact but fiendishly complex in practice. Multiple contributing circumstances provide such overwhelming variables that it's difficult not to despair.
There needs to be a parallel book on the potential effects of genetics and nano-technology to combat or at least restrain infection as this book appears to provide an overarching suggestion that ultimately "antibiotics" will always be - at the very least - on the back foot. the science works but is constantly undercut by greed, incompetence and plain stupidity.
This work by three eminent specialists is beyond doubt worth the reading as a primer covering a very scary situation. Other than providing generalist knowledge it does present portals through which anyone hitherto uninitiated can travel for more knowledge and understanding in depth.
My composite thought as I reached the final page was, we're in this problem together but we don't care all that much. In that respect the book succeeded.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be mainstream reading 23 Dec. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
People need to be educated about the threat that lies ahead due to the poor misuse of antibiotics. Fascinating reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Health Warning 8 Jan. 2014
By Hanna
Format:Kindle Edition
This book should be part of every school's reading list in an effort to educate the population about the health problem associated with the growing menace of drug resistant antibiotics through over use, mis-use and lack of understanding how they work. Food for thought on what steps doctors and patients can do about it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drugs Don't Work 17 Nov. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book that explains why the difficulties arising out of bacterial resistance to antibiotics are so potentially worrying to all of us. We may be returning to the situation we had before antibiotics were available to us and that simple infections will no longer be so easy to deal with, but may become life-changing or life-threatening to us in the future. Rampant overprescribing and inappropriate prescribing of antibacterials for the treatment of viral infections for example are the cause, plus the lack of new innovations from the pharmaceutical industry - a fascinating read - well written without patronising the reader.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely worrying 9 Oct. 2013
By Murray
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This draws attention to a major problem, which has been on the sidelines for too long. An excellent small book
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars everyone should read this 25 Nov. 2013
By fionac
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent review of the problems that modern medicine faces for the future. Compares how much time and money may be spent on producing new drugs, and how few may actually be appropriate to use. Worrying trends for future use of antibiotics. Conventional medicine may be less able to treat future epidemics. Easy to read and a fairly short book written by the Chief Medical Officer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is a trite recital from which i learnt ...
This book is a trite recital from which i learnt nothing. I had hoped to learn of possible solutions. Read more
Published 12 days ago by E willis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An important book. Read it.
Published 1 month ago by Guy Chapman
4.0 out of 5 stars Misuse and commercial abuse of life-saving drugs
Thought provoking and well written. Don't agree with lots of author's solutions
Published 1 month ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT!
Brilliant brilliant book at such a great price!
Definitely recommend to anyone reading up on current affairs in the medicine world & prospective medicine students. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sandi J.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
A eye opening account of how useless some drugs are at fighting certain infections and diseases and how powerless some medicines are.
Published 9 months ago by Jainoo
4.0 out of 5 stars V. Interesting and educational
Lots of important information and great ideas. Definitely worth a read and will inspire you to spread the word to everyone you know!
Published 9 months ago by Georgia Connor-Wilder
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone
Very good read. Well written and gives sufficient background information to enable in-depth understanding of the global threat that is antimicrobial resistance.
Published 9 months ago by Precious
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book
This book is very useful and important for doctors, pharmacists, scientists and patients to spread awareness about the use of Antimicrobials. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kim
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