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Books, Journals, New Media
October 20, 2004

Headache History

JAMA. 2004;292(15):1891-1897. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1894

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: