From snake oil salesmen to humanitarian scientists and back again, “Our Daily Meds” chronicles the rise of the pharmaceutical industry. More than just a terrifyingly accurate expose’ of the abuses, deceptions, high-pressure sales tactics, and outright lies used by the marketers who have taken over companies that make and sell prescription drugs; “Our Daily Meds” also shows us how we can tell when we’re being manipulated and how to protect ourselves from dangerous medications. It is a must read for anyone who takes prescription medications and wants to protect themselves and their family members from becoming an experiment (or a statistic) in the drug companies’ rush to make obscene profits from barely tested medications.
I think this quote expresses what has happened, and is continuing to happen, perfectly:
There is a kind of madness in it. The drug companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars in government fines for promoting their products illegally and hundreds of millions of dollars more to the families of the victims who suffered or died, then raise their prices and promote the products even harder.
Much of the blame must be put on the nation’s physicians, who have enjoyed the industry’s gifts as their profession has been corrupted and patients have suffered.
Marketing has no place in medicine. But in America marketing has replaced the science, honesty, and caring that the best medicine requires. Money rules. Patients come second. There’s a moral imperative that the medical industry’s marketers be stopped before many more lives are lost. ~page 322, Our Daily Meds
Written by investigative journalist Melody Peterson, it exposes the stranglehold BigPharma has on modern medicine; and the corrupt, profit-driven system it has spawned. Ms. Peterson has filled the book with quotes from doctors and former pharmaceutical company employees. She also includes stories of lifesaving drugs abandoned because they weren’t “profitable enough” and deadly medications (remember Vioxx, fen-phen, Accutane, and Rezulin?) whose makers not only hid the truth about the dangers, but actively marketed them knowing that patients were dying and/or being severely injured.
She begins with the story of eflornithine, dubbed the “resurrection drug” by doctors. It destroys the parasite that causes sleeping sickness, which kills tens of thousands of people a year in tropical areas of the world. It was discontinued in 1995 because the company that made it saw no profit in selling it in poor countries. (Don’t feel too bad for the pharmaceutical companies though. A few years later another company resurrected eflornithine as a cream to remove women’s unwanted facial hair. I called a local pharmacy and was told a tube of that cream is available by prescription for $115.)
The book continues with descriptions of the slick marketing practices used to convince us that we need the newest, most expensive pills available to treat diseases invented by the drug companies. (The story of “irritable bladder syndrome” is especially interesting.) It also exposes how much of that marketing is hidden in “news stories,” “health seminars,” and advertisements that are purposely written to look like legitimate articles.
As our prescription drug use has climbed, our health outcomes have declined. The more pills we take, the less healthy we are. Instead of being taught that what we eat and how we live affects our health; we are being told that we can do whatever we want to our bodies, and as long as we take the “right” pill everything will be fine. It’s a LIE. As we’ve added more and more drugs to the list of things we take every day, we’ve gotten sicker and sicker.
Healthcare is no longer focused on getting us well, it’s focused on convincing us that we’re sick, and tricking us into believing that even more pills to manage the side-effects of the medications we already take makes sense. It’s focused on convincing us that normal reactions to the everyday events of our lives are illnesses that need to be treated with expensive medication, and that we need to take those medications for the rest of our lives.
There is hope though. The epilogue provides a list of ways we can protect ourselves from medications that kill us or make us sicker, and doctors who have sold out to the pharmaceutical companies.
Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs (c) 2008 by Melody Peterson, published by “Sarah Crichton Books” Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
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