Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor:
Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA ; David H. Morse,
MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review
Historians offer physicians a great deal. They collapse huge sections
of medical and paramedical history into digestible capsules that we can use
to understand where we as a profession sometimes go astray and why. Jan R.
McTavish’s readable and interesting Pain and Profits suggests how the pharmaceutical industry may have encouraged the overmedicalizing
of and over-prescribing for pain.
This reasonable historical review captures the pharmaceutical industry
as it grew in the last two centuries.McTavish touches on controversial aspects
of that growth: cleverly schemed alignment with the legitimacy of the medical
profession, recurrent focusing of the medical profession on pharmaceutical
solutions to the patient’s woes, direct marketing to sufferers, and
marketing that seizes upon the tendency of modern medicine to medicalize all
human suffering. He notes, for example:
Ferrari R. Headache History. JAMA. 2004;292(15):1891-1897. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1894