Doctor questions American medical research and practices

The Fugitive
The Fugitive (Image via Tommy Lee Jones confronts Harrison Ford

“How the pharmaceutical companies distort medical knowledge, mislead doctors, and compromise your health.” That’s what it says the book is about. Just started reading Overdosed America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine, by John Abramson, MD.

Dr. Abramson was a family physician for 20-some years. When he knew he had to write this book he left the practice of medicine. He doesn’t say this, but I’d guess he left because he didn’t want anyone to be able to raise a question about his motives in writing this careful analysis of some seriously negative practices going on in the American medical industry.

Along with his indictments of highly respected medical journals for publishing questionable research conclusions supported by misleading statistical information, he states that billions and billions of American citizens’ dollars are being diverted to the coffers of giant corporations—a la the fictional Devlin MacGregor from the movie The Fugitive .

The first case Dr. Abramson presents concerns Vioxx and Celebrex. He notes two early articles that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association from November 24, 1999, touting the supposed beneficial effects of the two drugs for arthritis pain. He then studies the accompanying editorial and notes that it says, in contrast to the articles, there is no statistical benefit of these drugs over older, less expensive drugs. The editorial calculated that preventing a single serious ulcer with either of these medicines would cost the American public $400,000.

And as of 2005, lawsuits were being filed against Merck for misleading people instead about the dangers of Vioxx—an increased risk of heart problems and stroke. Here’s a concise review of how Overdosed America addresses these issues in relation to arthritis patients.

Have personally seen a friend suffering terrible side effects from statins. Dr. Abramson writes about how a patient bullies him into prescribing it for him—despite the doc’s recommendations to the contrary. That’s the next drug he tackles in the book. I’ll let you know what he finds.

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