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on 22 February 2014
Peter Gøtzsche is in angry man. When you read his book it becomes clear why. In the book he documents with many examples the unhealthy relationship between the major pharmaceutical corporations on one side, and FDA and EMA, the universities and the medical doctors on the other side. It is an incestuous and downright corrupt relationship.

The author lives what he preaches, as he is a member of the Danish group Doctors without Sponsors, and he is clearly very knowledgeable and experienced. He has managed to produce a page turner here, and he doesn't pull his punches when he gives examples with names of doctors that have "prostituted" themselves and have become paid shrills for the industry, a fact they try to hide.

Reading the book you learn about the great crime Merck committed doctoring the data on Vioxx, which in the book is estimated to have cost 130,000 lives. You learn how the DSM manual is really a way of introducing new diagnoses that can then be monetized. An example is given of grief, where for DSM III the "acceptable" period for grief was one year before it was considered a clinical depression. In DSM IV this changed to two months, and in DSM V this became two weeks. You learn about how wholly unreliable and unscientific psychiatry is, and how dangerous happy pills really are, causing more harm than good. Actually, I started reading this book because of an article Peter Gøtzsche had in the Danish newspaper Politiken where he strongly recommended banning Psychopharma to kids, and generally criticized the extreme over use of Psychopharma. That got me interested and made me purchase and read the book.

Throughout the book it is clear that the author knows his area extremely well. The book is easy to read and in general whenever something new is introduced it comes with a good description. So the role of EMA and FDA is clearly explained, what an NSAID is (Vioxx is from that class of drugs), how evidence based medicine works, what the DSM is, ghost writing, how you can cheat with results, etc.

The book can be read by people without a medical background like me, but it might help reading for example Ben Goldacre's two books first, since this book is pretty fast moving covering loads of areas, so Ben's book would be good primers, but by no means necessary!

For me as a layperson some of the numbers that the author quotes seem a bit high, for example the estimate of 130,000 dead due to Vioxx, but in the book the author does go through the calculations that leads him to the conclusions, and they seem sound, so it could well be just me not used to seeing those kind of numbers attributed to a single medicine, that is downright scary!

As stated before the book is full of examples, and the author names the individual people involved and responsible by name in general. Frankly, to me that is gutsy, and I like that approach, it shows he is certain of his facts. Great read, I cannot recommend it enough, but it does paint a depressing picture. I guess the good news is that after reading the book you stand a better chance of becoming an informed consumer in this space, the last chapter has several recommendations, and that can only be a good thing.
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on 7 September 2014
This is no cheap, sensationalist expose, written by a jobbing journalist on the make – this well-researched and detailed book comes right from the heart of the medical establishment. And this inherent authenticity is what makes the content so frightening. Not only is he medically qualified, but as a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, Peter Gotzsche knows his subject, and is clearly not a man to stand for any concealment or lies.

His book presents itself as the result of a wide-ranging and thorough investigation into the corruption, deception, and dirty dealing which is endemic to Big Pharma and those elements of the medical industry which have hitched themselves to Pharma’s wagon. This is solidly based upon first-hand experience of attempting to obtain trial data and other information from companies which place their shareholders well above any possible consideration for patients who consume their medicines. He shows how Big Pharma operates in the same way as the tobacco industry – maximising turnover, minimising risk, buying politicians, and ignoring anyone who is harmed by their products.

He also demonstrates how this horror has pervasively leached down into doctor’s surgeries, hospital consulting rooms and patient organisations. The drug regulators do no such thing; the medical journals have been suborned; and thousands of doctors have been bought with ‘thirty pieces of silver’. Leading doctors are paid to present drug marketing as ‘education’, and put their names to drug trials which are actually produced by ‘ghostwriters’, on the payroll of drug companies. And drug trials which have negative results are buried. And you know nothing of any of this until you are injured by it, and you begin to look more closely at how ‘healthcare’ works (or doesn’t ‘work’) for many patients.

The topics he covers will ensure that you question every doctor you meet, and doubt every drug you are ever prescribed. And with good reason. Big Pharma exists to make a profit, and if you ever suffer great harm from a drug, then you are on your own. You have no comeback, and no recourse, and no one is interested in your complaint.

And perhaps worst of all, Peter highlights the collusion between Big Pharma and psychiatry, referring to the latter as ‘the drug industry’s paradise’. A patient will put their trust in a psychiatrist, believing him to be working in their interests. But many of these men are simply acting as cynical conduits between drug companies and patients, in order to get them hooked upon mind-warping drugs, certainly for years, and possibly for the rest of their lives. And whatever outrageous claims the drug companies may make for their drugs; then psychiatry is quick to parrot those same lies.

My own introduction to the sullied underbelly of ‘chemical psychiatry’ came when my then partner started ‘treatment’ as an outpatient in early 2013. She had suffered emotional abuse in a previous relationship; and needed help to cope with the aftermath. She was referred to a highly-experienced clinical psychologist for a 12-month programme of psychotherapy, paid for at great expense by her family.

Bizarrely, at her very first one-hour session, he diagnosed her as ‘severely depressed’ (she wasn’t), and via her GP, immediately increased her existing SSRI prescription to the maximum dose. Where was the ‘informed consent’, or the ‘treatment alliance’? Within a few days, she became very ill with akathisia, and this chemical torture continued for weeks. The drugs should have been stopped, but they were not.

Parallel to this, ‘emotional blunting’ took its course, and she forced me away from herself. This was like being forced to watch the woman I loved being slowly buried alive. My kind, sentient and caring partner ‘disappeared’, and was replaced by a cold, hostile stranger who I no longer recognised (please google ‘relationships destroyed by SSRIs’).

I was then shocked to witness how just three months later, she resumed the relationship with the emotional abuser who had caused her to seek psychiatric help in the first place! Such a bizarre ‘outcome’ would have made any psychotherapy very convoluted indeed (assuming the ‘talk therapy’ was ever delivered, which I doubt). I know that large doses of SSRIs suppress anxiety and fear, and remove any self-awareness about what the patient is doing in their everyday life.

I am certain that she was not tapered off the drugs at the end of her ‘treatment’, and she remains as an unwitting antidepressant zombie, her doctor having abandoned her to a drug-induced ‘twilight state’. Physically and psychologically she will be dependent upon the drugs, and may never be able to get off them. By numbing of cognitive functions, ‘zombification’ provides a grotesque chemical illusion of a ‘cured’ patient, it has nothing to do with medical care, and is pure iatrogeny.

Her own family believe her now to be ‘well’, but chillingly, knew nothing about the antidepressant increase, and its sedative effect, until I told them. I would suggest they are the victims of an abusive and fraudulent ‘confidence trick’, cheap pills being substituted for expensive therapy. You only suffer an experience like that once – for my part, no-one can ever tell me that Big Pharma or chemical psychiatry are ‘well-meaning’ or ‘necessary’ in this world: they are simply deceitful parasites, working together to make vast sums of money by exploiting vulnerable people, such as my ex-partner.

And did this ghastly ‘treatment’ occur in some remote town in the mid-west of the USA? No, I’m attesting that an acolyte of Dr Josef Mengele stalks the corridors of a UK private hospital; and that I was forced to witness one of his ‘chemical experiments’. Just before she was twisted into a cold, hostile zombie, my ex-partner spoke well of him. I recall that patients of Dr Harold Shipman also had a similar high regard for their abuser.

Peter Gotzsche’s account is not fantasy or fiction – it is a clear, clinical expose of an industry which is out of control, and doesn’t give a damn about the health or welfare of any patient, as I well know. You have been warned.

Mark Fletcher
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on 4 June 2017
Have recommended it to friends and colleagues interested in health economics.
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on 2 December 2013
Peter bursts asunder the widely held public views of Drugs in Healthcare as being the saviour of mankind, when in fact if we simply think about it it's obviously a delusion. Since the advent of 'Big Pharma', healthcare costs in all civilised countries has spiralled out of control at the same time as outcomes have become worse to the extent that drug related mortality is now the third highest cause of death below only that of cancer and heart disease.

Even before I had chance to read this book it was obvious that Pharma wanted to rubbish it, with a contribution from someone with obvious bias who worked in the Industry, but this tactic is also detailed by Peter, as one of the many ways that the market is manipulated. It is both almost unbelievable but nonetheless true that crimes are committed but no-one does any 'time', and that diseases are 'invented', purely to sell a relatively worthless treatment for them, that relies on data that is at best suspect and at worst often fabricated or 'cherry picked' from the few trials that were significant with the rest being witheld.

In a well researched and documented treatise, Peter systematically takes apart most of the myths about drug invention and so called 'evidence based medicine' and shows it for what it's worth, a travesty of the truth. He also reveals to those of us who are 'sleepwalking' through a landscape of faux sickness that we would generally be better off and live longer if, when we are offered interventions for illnesses we don't really have, by our concerned GP's (for their wallets), we should perhaps learn to 'just say no'.
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on 30 December 2013
Professor Peter Goetzsche is a courageous man. To expose the pharmaceutical industry in the way he does requires that one knows exactly what one is talking about. He certainly does know. Most doctors, most NHS managers, most of those involved in the pharmaceutical industry know - but even if they would like to they don't have the courage to put a stop to it. Our National Health System is a sinking ship; sinking partly because of mismanagement and corruption; sinking mainly because of a financial burden that, like the side effects of drugs and the many unnecessary illnesses and deaths, is iatrogenic, or rather pharmatrogenic: caused by unnecessary treatments with pharmaceuticals. Just think of the millions of unnecessary flu vaccines every year: laced with aluminium, a brain toxin. Same goes, for example, for Gaviscon which also contains aluminium. Unnecessary amounts of antibiotics (which can, no doubt be life saving when really needed) leaving millions without a healthy gut flora. And so on, and so on. Keep writing, Peter Goetzsche. Most people are fed up, but they don't quite know what to do about it. Your books will help to push many people into health: by making them think, by making them realise that they need not to be taking unnecessary, useless drugs and should not be trusting their doctors blindly.
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on 2 December 2013
Gøtzsche has been criticized for being angry in this book. Of course he's angry. He has comprehensive evidence, which he details in the book, of suffering and death on a colossal scale. And this unnecessary misery is caused by the dishonest, and often illegal, behaviour of the drug industry. Anger seems an appropriate first response. But then what to do about it? Gøtzsche has some suggestions there too. Read this book, and make yourself angry. Then do something about it.

Steve Martin, author of Cool Risk - How to be Happy in a World of Worry
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on 25 November 2013
This very informative but enjoyably readable book, from a member of the international Cochrane Institute, details the incredible extent of the damage being created by the pharmaceutical industry. It contains data of which we should all be aware. The problem is SO big and so pervasive that we do not see it as the very real danger that it is. We usually trust our doctors, but what if the data they base their drug prescriptions on is false or unreliable at best? The author gives greatest criticism to psychiatry/psychotropic drugs where "diseases" are manufactured wholesale and the side-effects of treatment produce infinitely greater problems for the patient than they had in the first place! The book's premises are backed up with masses of research references.
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on 31 October 2013
This is a great book that points out how massive the extent of corruption in big pharma is. It is well cited and has very clear examples behind it. It's really been an eye-opener in many ways although not completely surprising given the concept that pharmaceutical main interests are in selling drugs, not the well-being of the population. This is a must read if you're in the medical field.
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on 6 March 2014
The book is both compelling and deeply disturbing
Not only did it raise a different explanation of the effects of placebos but it raised some very disturbing questions about the effectiveness of certain drugs.
We have been fooled into thinking that the pharmaceutical industry is ably supporting the medical profession in improving the health of mankind. Far from it! It is more likely that the improvements in longevity have had little to do with the pharmaceutical industry. Most useful (and older) drugs were chance discoveries and the modern replacements are in a lot of cases money spinners that have been foisted on us - sometime through fraudulent science and most often through commercial inducement, undue influence and practises that are tantamount to bribery
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on 7 April 2014
This book is a must to those who values their sanity, health and live however, reading it, for me personally, was a right slog for this is not the easiest book to read. Necessary, timely, important – yes. Well-researched – yes. Easy to read – no. Instead of building a logical string of how, the so-called “modern medicine”, overtook and overthrown the normal, “traditional” medicine and has conspired to destroy, kill and maim millions of people across the world, while polluting our environment, all in search of profit, we are left to read a parade of criminal rap-sheet of every pharmaceutical company on the planet. The good doctor seems not to realise that those who buy his book already know how pharmaceutical industry operates and take much better care of their bodies than the rest of the population – we cannot be shocked. The rest however, who will get a great deal of insight from this book that can go a long way towards saving their own lives as well as that of their families resulting from them reading this book, will find it a bit bland, dismiss it as sensationalist and be on their merry way to the early grave. An important and sincere book but an opportunity missed, I believe.
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