RKS Book Review: “sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It” by John Abramson, MD, MSc

“sickening” is authored by John Abramson (MD, MSc). Abramson has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for 25 years. He has been a family physician for 22 years and has acted as an expert witness in litigation against various pharmaceutical companies. He has written numerous academic articles and a book “Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine”. If we have a critique of American Big Pharma here is a man with the credentials to deliver it.

In Part 1 Abramson discusses the failures of American Big Pharma concerning Vioxx, Neurotonin, statins and insulin using in simple terms case studies of the victims of these drugs. Abramson points out that despite the failures and shortcoming of these drugs which may surface in fines and lost court cases Big Pharma may still walk away with sizeable profits. Big Pharma is designed for profits so volume sales are key which can be driven in part by manipulated clinical trials and less than impartial journal articles. Put crudely it is SELL SELL SELL and damn the consequences.

Part II delves into how physicians may be misled and manipulated by Big Pharma and less than impartial clinical studies. It also explores how commercial interests have great control over medical knowledge.

 Part III sets forth certain recommendations on how the Big Pharma mess weaking havoc on the American health care system can be repaired.

While the book is American in focus there are nuggets that can apply to other jurisdictions. What may be revealing to readers is that despite the highest spending on health care the health of Americans is declining as Big Pharma disasters and profits keep rising. In fact American healthy life expectancy is plummeting. And since 2000 American’s healthy life expectancy has plummeted from 38th in the world to sixty-eighth in 2019 (now behind China, Cuba and Jamaica). Citizens of Japan live 8 years longer in good health and Canadians live 5.2 years longer in good health than Americans do.”

I am left with an impression of an American health care system verging on Big Pharma corruption operating with an insatiable quest for profit to the detriment of the health of millions of Americans. From my research on medical cannabis it was used prior to its criminalization in 1937 in the United States for over 2,000 cannabis medical preparations. Its criminalization corresponded with the rise of Big Pharma. Ask your physician about the benefits and they may respond that apart from its recognized “and documented” efficacy for epilepsy (even if they are aware of that) its benefits are anecdotal and not supported by clinical trials! I bet you they will jump on the bandwagon for synthetic cannabis manufactured by Big Pharma. Big Pharma does its job well.

At times the read is a bit too technical for the average reader and may be better suited for physicians and health care professionals.

“Sickening”, a Mariner Books publication, retails for $28 in the United States and $35 in Canada

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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