Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes physician and health care policy expert JOHN ABRAMSON for a discussion of his latest book, Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It. He will be joined in conversation by Dr. HELEN MACDONALD, research integrity and publication ethics editor of The BMJ.
The United States spends an excess $1.5 trillion annually on health care compared to other wealthy countries—yet the amount of time that Americans live in good health ranks a lowly 68th in the world. At the heart of the problem is Big Pharma, which funds most clinical trials and therefore controls the research agenda, withholds the real data from those trials as corporate secrets, and shapes most of the information relied upon by health care professionals.
In this no-holds-barred exposé, Dr. John Abramson—one of the foremost experts on the drug industry’s deceptive tactics—combines patient stories with what he learned during many years of serving as an expert in national drug litigation to reveal the tangled web of financial interests at the heart of the dysfunction in our health-care system. For example, one of pharma’s best-kept secrets is that the peer reviewers charged with ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the clinical trial reports published in medical journals do not even have access to complete data and must rely on manufacturer-influenced summaries. Likewise for the experts who write the clinical practice guidelines that define our standards of care.
The result of years of research and privileged access to the inner workings of the U.S. medical-industrial complex, Sickening shines a light on the dark underbelly of American health care—and presents a path toward genuine reform.
Praise for Sickening
“The Purdue Pharmaceutical company and its owners, the Sackler Family, have paid out billions of dollars in legal settlements, after deploying sales personnel to mislead physicians into believing that Oxycontin was not an addictive opioid. As John Abramson brilliantly shows in Sickening, the Purdue gang was simply following a script used by drug companies generally, hyping medicines and deceiving physicians about every aspect of their safety and efficacy. It’s a medical horror show.”—Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
“Dr. Abramson’s book is a scholarly tour de force that should be read by all prescribers, researchers, publishers of that research, and users of pharmaceutical drugs.” —Catherine DeAngelis, Editor in Chief Emerita, Journal of the American Medical Association
“Sickening is a must-read for all health professionals and anybody impacted by prescription drugs—that is, all of us. The book rigorously and convincingly documents that Big Pharma is largely responsible for the horrendously expensive yet inferior health care in the United States. To improve Americans’ health, a large proportion of the US population must read the book and incrementally reverse this travesty. When that happens, it will improve the health of the rest of the world as well.” —James M. Wright, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, University of British