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Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients
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Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  4,992 Ratings  ·  541 Reviews
"Smart, funny, clear, unflinching: Ben Goldacre is my hero." —Mary Roach, author of Stiff, Spook, and Bonk

We like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence and the results of fair testing and clinical trials. In reality, those tests and trials are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors who write prescriptions for everything from antidepressants to
Paperback, 456 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2012)
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Nov 12, 2012 knig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Stop Press: this should be compulsory reading for anyone…with a pulse, really. I can’t think of a single person who should be excused from the reading rota here.

This is the MOST appalling, horrific, mind-numbing expose on the current state of medicine I had never hoped to see, or know, or be a part of. Ever.

You ever go to the doctor? You a doctor? No? Maybe you expect the doctor, as the specialist, to be able to diagnose and treat you accordingly. I know I do: I go in with my ailments and I lik
Pedro Molina
Oct 06, 2012 Pedro Molina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book may have an enormous impact in public health.
Read the first chapters and already amazed, enthralled and utterly shocked by some of the revelations. It doesn't surprise me that drug companies are withholding data from public scrutiny but it sickens me to learn that publicly funded regulators are also in the game... Now that I have finished it, I have a much deeper knowledge of how Big Pharma actually harms patients and, better still, a list of actions anyone can take to help imp
Dec 05, 2013 Scott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
Currently reading this but not so sure how much more I can take. There is some decent information here. The title is absolutely true. Drug companies are businesses and multibillion dollar corporations are not ethical paragons. They do not publish studies that make their drug look bad or even "as good as." There are sponsored journals that are sponsor biased. Sometimes legit journals want the most interesting "this changes everything" articles rather than another "dog bites man" article to boost ...more
I read Goldacre's book Bad Science very recently, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to not go for my usual buffer period between very similar books and just jump right into Bad Pharma. And they are very similar books, though this one is actually longer, for all that it is more specialized in one area of badness.

There was a lot of overlap between the two, which is to be expected, I guess, because Goldacre IS a doctor, and lives in this world. I didn't really mind the rehash though, because
Mar 03, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
Goldacre has a way of making complex science subjects accessible to the wider public. His first book, Bad Science, highlighted the way that the media dealt with reporting science, and in this book he concentrates his ire onto the $600 billion global pharmacy industry, now dominated by a handful of behemoths.

And what he reveals is frankly terrifying. He details the way that the industry hides a large majority of the trial data, the way that the legislation requiring data to be published is ignore
Feb 23, 2013 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I appreciate how Ben Goldacre is trying to open the eyes of the people to many of the issues relating to science reporting. I check his blog every now and then, but this is the first time I've read his books. As background, I'm a GP in NZ, British by birth and training, closer to the start of my career than the end and I don't see drug reps or attend drug sponsored CME (consciously at least; sometimes it can be difficult to tell). I'm also fairly clued up on the issues he presents here so in som ...more
Bastian Greshake
Dec 31, 2012 Bastian Greshake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Okay, somehow Goodreads didn't save the last review I tried to write. So I'll try again:

If I only had read this book a day earlier I could have flagged it as the most depressing read of 2012. It made me cry out loud and swear a lot (just ask my girlfriend who had to listen to it for the most time).

Bad Pharma gives a great overview on how medicine is failing patients (aka each of us) all the time. Publication bias, missing access to raw data and all the other nuisances which might be familiar t
Feb 18, 2013 Duncan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here Ben Goldacre follows up on his previous book, Bad Science, by turning his spotlight solely on the pharmaceuticals industry. This is a terrifying book because it argues in great detail that our understanding of the efficacy of many drugs and the extent of their side effects is fundamentally flawed.

Goldacre starts with the criticism he finds most damning: namely, when drug companies conduct a trial and the results don't support their own medecine, they frequently fail to publish the results -
Oct 19, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding book and everyone should read it. It took me about 3 sittings to get through it as I found rage slowly building as I read it and had to get up and pace around the house a bit.

The book systematically works through all the ways in which the practice of evidence based medicine is being distorted by the big pharmaceutical companies. It identifies all of the perverse incentives that make those distortions an unavoidable part of doing business, and then helpfully identifies ways
Mar 27, 2013 Darrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"The story of the serotonin hypothesis for depression, and its enthusiastic promotion by drug companies, is part of a wide process that has been called 'disease-mongering' or 'medicalisation', where diagnostic categories are widened, whole new diagnoses are invented, and normal variants of human experience are pathologised, so they can be treated with pills."

Ben Goldacre touched on the evils of the pharmaceutical industry in his previous book, Bad Science, and this book greatly expands upon thos
Tanja Berg
A very interesting read about how medicine is developed, released and distributed. It suffers mostly from being dry and detailed. This is not a conspiracy book. It's about facts, some of them quite complicated, particularly if you are unfamiliar with scientific methodolgy.

One of the problems is missing data. Most of the trials that are negative, that do not have the result the sponsor (the pharmaceutical industry, usually) hoped for, are never published. The data is extremely difficult to get a
Donna Brown
Jan 05, 2013 Donna Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bad Pharma is actually a fairly scary book to pick up when you’ve just collected a prescription from the chemist but I’d heard a lot about Bad Science (which I’ve since read) and thought Bad Pharma would be incredibly interesting. I certainly wasn’t wrong.

This is pretty much a damaging expose of the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement in modern medicine. Not necessarily their manufacture and distribution of tablets that do improve people’s lives every day but more the unnecessary peddling of d
Feb 14, 2013 Erika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: demagoguery
Had to add a new shelf -- demagoguery -- for this one. Good God. But then again, his website says he frequently gives speeches in rock venues, so what do you expect.
Mohamed al-Jamri
Medicine is broken.

"We are going to see that the whole edifice of medicine is broken, because the evidence we use to make decisions is hopelessly and systematically distorted. And this is no small thing. Because in medicine doctors and patients use abstract data to make decisions in the very real world of flesh and blood. If those decisions are misguided they can result in death and suffering and pain."

The whole book is written to defend the following paragraph:
Drugs are tested by the people who
Oct 11, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
At first sight this might be seen as another piece of new-age anti-pharma ranting: Big Pharma is Bad and therefore we should not trust it or use its products, turning our backs on the knowledge that has extended life-spans and improved our health during our lives.

To make such an assumption would be to do this book a grave injustice; Ben Goldacre is himself a doctor and believes whole-heartedly in the benefits that modern medicine has brought to humankind. What he objects to is, as shown in his c
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
From the introduction:
'Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques which are flawed by design, in a such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, s
Feb 12, 2013 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great overview into one of the largest health and economic problems today. As someone with experience in both the world of research and clinical medicine, I can say that the information in this book is accurate. The information is presented in a surprisingly non-biased and non 'conspiracy theory' way. The organization is such that there is wonderful flow and each idea builds on itself. I appreciate the fact that there are proposed solutions to the problems, many of which have the poten ...more
Mar 15, 2017 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a treatise against medicine. This is not a conspiracy theorist attack on vaccines. It's a doctor's thoroughly researched and heartfelt expose of the systemic problems in the drugs industry - problems that expose us to potentially dangerous new medicines, or at the very least worthless medicines that cost us millions. You won't find any stories about evil corporate execs laughing as they poison children in Africa for fat medicine contracts. You will find real and shocking stories of h ...more
Smiley McGrouchpants
Mar 14, 2017 Smiley McGrouchpants rated it it was amazing
Almost essential, this book prescribes a mode of relief not only for the pharmaceutical industr[ies], but for many high-level corporations which have problems with public promotion vs. due diligence. As always, the question is one of transparency, and of rigor, as opposed to the forces — including human lethargy, neglect, honest oversight, and outright seduction — mitigating against doing Good Work.

Goldacre's point-of-view (and voice) is warm, empathetic, and realistic without being discouraging
Thomas Edmund
Bad Pharma is a sequel of sorts from the author of Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks an original piece about poor scientific process, across a variety of fields.

Pharma on the other hand lampoons the pharmaceutical industry (I bet you didn't guess from the name) targeting biased publishing trends, dodgy marketing tactics, and misinformed regulators (amongst other concerns) including his own ideas on solutions and prevention.

Unlike many polemics Goldacre's solutions are well thoug
Dec 23, 2012 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-sci
Well, who'd have guessed it? The big pharmaceutical companies aren't altruistic, transparent purveyors of the unbiased and complete truth.

Actually this is an important and useful book, but one that struggles between its need to inform the casual reader and the necessity of ensuring all the arguments that a multi-billion dollar industry can throw at it can be rebutted. At time this makes it a bit slow and hard going.

The key points I took away were:
1) The results of many drugs trials aren't publis
Susana Santos
Oct 25, 2016 Susana Santos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alguns poderão considerar o livro tendencioso... que apenas aponta os "podres" da industria farmacêutica. A verdade é que mesmo que apenas o relatado acontecesse em 10% da industria já seria assustador!
Explicação clara e cheia de referências bibliográficas (cientificas).
Nota negativa apenas para a tradução.
Sep 10, 2015 Webnesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The brilliant Ben Goldacre manages to tone down his vitriol enough to adopt a galvanizing but not irritating tone. Fascinating look at how captured by pharmaceutical interests the entire medical establishment is, from the scientists producing basic research to the family doctor deciding which drugs to prescribe.

A must-read. Now Web-MD is looking pretty good after all...
Victor Tatarskii
Dec 11, 2013 Victor Tatarskii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
5+ for the message, 4 for the style. But a must read
May 04, 2013 Martina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread. Still absolutely savage and brilliant. How is it that we were made to read utter tripe like Tuesdays With Morrie in med-school but not this?
Marion Husband
Mar 01, 2013 Marion Husband rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
11811 (Eleven)
Jul 02, 2016 11811 (Eleven) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pharmaceutical industry has to be the top criminal organization in the world today. Someone needs to tear it down and start over. It can't be fixed as is. It's far too fufcked.
Very scary, very necessary.
Athan Tolis
Aug 31, 2014 Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, business
I was walking around Notting Hill with my buddy Elias, who runs a biotech company. “How’s work?” I asked, as one does.

He disappeared for a second in the famous bookstore from the Hugh Grant movie and emerged with this thick tome.

“Read this and then we can talk,” he said.

The book is a full-on attack on the pharmaceutical industry. No part of it escapes

The author starts with testing. In short, negative trials (the kind that say a new treatment did not work) disappear more often than they don’t. T
Leo Abrantes
[O texto original pode ser lido aqui:]

Um meme recorrente em comentários de jornais, blogs ou sites a propósito de qualquer assunto sobre saúde é o ataque à Indústria farmacêutica. Quem ousa, por exemplo, criticar terapias não comprovadas, ou suplementos alimentares, ouve, invariavelmente uma repetição dos mesmos argumentos: “Quem faz a crítica é pago pela indústria”, ou “ a indústria está a deliberadamente a esconder a substância natural, sem efeitos secu
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Bad Pharma from B. Goldacre - Truth or Fiction? Any related personal experiences? 4 77 Jun 21, 2016 06:43AM  
drug ads 4 21 Apr 15, 2013 03:40AM  
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Ben Goldacre is a British science writer and psychiatrist, born in 1974. He is the author of The Guardian newspaper's weekly Bad Science column and a book of the same title, published by Fourth Estate in September 2008.

Goldacre is the son of Michael Goldacre, professor of public health at the University of Oxford, the nephew of science journalist Robyn Williams, and the great-great-grandson of Sir
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“The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is sponsored by Coca-Cola.” 10 likes
“At this time we should take a brife moment to mention quacks: alternative therapists who sell vitamins and homeopathy sugar pills [the latter of which, by definition, contain no active ingredients], which perform no better than placebo in fair tests, and who use even cruder marketing tricks than the ones described in this book. In these people profit at all from the justified anger that people feel towards the pharmaceutical industry, then it comes at the expense of genuinely constructive activity. Selling ineffective sugar pills is not a meaningful policy response to the regulatory failure we have seen in this book” 4 likes
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