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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
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book 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.

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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)

About the Author

Professor Dame Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England. She is a haematologist with specialist research interest in sickle cell disease. But in her advisory post she guides government decisions on diverse subjects such as superbugs, drug trials and obesity. She developed the National Institute for Health Research in 2006 with a budget of £1 billion. She is an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 165 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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,680 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
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pill Popper 19 Mar. 2014
Format:Mass Market 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drugs Don't Work 17 Nov. 2013
Format:Mass Market 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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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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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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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Urgent and unintimidating
A clear and easy-to-understand overview of a global problem we all need to start paying attention to. Read more
Published 28 days ago by M. P. Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
Very important information in this book. Should be read by everyone who cares about their own health and the safety and health of their family.
Published 1 month ago by Makaleka
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary
Perfect for the general reader wanting an introduction to the topic or someone who wants an overview before delving deeper.
Published 2 months ago by b j heaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding why drugs don't work as they did in the past.
An excellent read. Very well written, authoritative, informative and accessible to both lay readers and health professionals.
Published 2 months ago by J. D. Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exceelent book, covers the subject without being too technical.
Published 3 months ago by Peter Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fab little read!
Published 3 months ago by miss chriselle nisbet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Geoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational vision
Read this as part of my Infection Prevention and Control MSc. A very informative and worrying portrayal of future years to come if we do not heed the message about antimicrobial... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read rimer on Drug Resistance
Sally Davies is the sixteenth UK Government Chief Medical Officer, and the first woman in that post. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Spedding Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good good delivery.
Published 8 months ago by T. Sims
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