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Books, Journals, New Media
November 23/30, 2005

Prescription Drugs

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(20):2639-2640. doi:10.1001/jama.294.20.2639-b

Among the deep-seated beliefs that dog us is the compelling notion that natural substances are good, man-made ones bad. For the many who harbor this belief, pharmaceutical products are high on the list of evils. Generation Rx, a nearly 300-page tirade about the dangers of prescription drugs, will find an appreciative audience.

In the first half, Greg Critser recounts with copious detail how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other government agencies, and the medical profession have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to enable it to produce, market, and sell an enormous amount of drugs. A few of these drugs, Critser admits, may be helpful, but lots of them are unnecessary, many do more harm than good, and more than a handful are deadly. For this debacle, he indicts direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, the review fees paid by pharma to the FDA, aggressive drug company lobbying, gifts to physicians, regulatory deficiencies, and, most of all, the greed of drug companies. Among their other tactics, pharmaceutical companies have created diseases—GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is one of his prime examples—to sell largely unnecessary drugs. Anyone who occasionally watches the news or flips open a magazine or newspaper will find nothing new here.

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