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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

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,283 Ratings  ·  493 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 Faber & Faber (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
Dec 04, 2013 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
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
Apr 07, 2014 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
May 10, 2014 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 26, 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
Jan 02, 2013 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
Dec 04, 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
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
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
Donna Brown
Jan 12, 2013 Donna Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Jun 17, 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.
Nov 04, 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 23, 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
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
Jan 04, 2013 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
The author of this book, Ben Goldacre, is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (which is exactly what it sounds like). He isn't some crank who believes in homoeopathy, the healing power of crystals, or that giving your child the MMR vaccine will make them grow gills.

It is important to lay out the author's credentials because it is his credibility that makes this book all the more scary.

Mr Goldacre paints a picture of regulatory, and indeed whole-industry, capture by
Athan Tolis
Sep 01, 2014 Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 03, 2014 Gendou rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to like this book. It's about an important issue, made clear in the title. My problem with this book is that it's one-sided and comes off more as fear mongering than justified skepticism. Goldacre seems to have embraced the conspiracy theory point of view so toxic to this real problem. In order to paint medical science in a scary light, Goldacre starts the book with a gory description of the TGN1412 incident, just to frighten his readers.

He often argues from false dichotomy and paints a
Simon Howard
May 03, 2014 Simon Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the most important things to say at the start of a review of Bad Pharma is that I think that Goldacre argues convincingly for a sound central thesis. I accept the argument that there are serious flaws in the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to the research, discovery, production and marketing of drugs, and in the pharmaceutical industry’s relationship with doctors (and vice versa). Goldacre’s clear elucidation of many of the issues deserves praise, and makes this a worthy book.

I also,
Dec 07, 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...
Sandra Ross
May 17, 2016 Sandra Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be a must-read book for every human being alive.

While I have been more acutely aware for quite some time of the areas of misleading that Goldacre spotlights in this book because of my own experience as a medical advocate and primary caregiver for one of my parents and my subsequent extensive research into Big Pharma, Goldacre digs into the details and presents scary and compelling evidence of the total corruption in the industry.

From rigged research and faulty data analysis methods
Victor Tatarskii
Jan 31, 2014 Victor Tatarskii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
5+ for the message, 4 for the style. But a must read
Very scary, very necessary.
Jan 18, 2016 V. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aviso à navegação: esta review vai alongar-se mais do que devia.
Este 1º semestre, tive uma unidade curricular denominada "Bioética e Biossegurança", onde são discutidos os pontos morais e éticos aceitáveis na ciência e investigação e que deverão estar sempre presentes na mente se queremos fazer boa ciência. E na bibliografia, relativamente ao módulo Biossegurança, este livro figurava como bibliografia. Na altura, a professora apenas nos disponibilizou o capítulo relativo aos ensaios clínicos vis
May 12, 2015 Snoakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fascinating and appalling in equal measure. We blithely assume our doctors are doing the best for us and yet they are actively and routinely misled by the pharmaceutical industry. But you can't blame big business for this - these large companies are doing what they were made for - creating wealth for their shareholders. It is our fault for naively assuming that they will act like benevolent Victorian philanthropists and will have our best interests at heart. Without proper regulation, go ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Disclosure time! I work in the pharma industry, specifically for a regulatory agency. I read this book as much for professional interest as personal, but I'm recommending it for everyone from a personal perspective. I am not speaking as a regulator! I never am, on a site like this, but some people are idiots and need it spelled out in black and white (or whatever colour your text appears).

When I say I recommend this for everyone, I really do mean for everyone. Everyone will, at some point in the
Mar 22, 2013 Barbm1020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book that every doctor and every patient should read. The author explains the drug trials that result in medicines (often of no or doubtful use) being approved for prescription and sale, in the USA and elsewhere. The pharmaceutical industry often pays for tests and then hides any negative results, picking and choosing which trials should be published in order to make their new products look good, and doctors are only told what the manufacturers want them to hear. Many re ...more
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Bad Pharma from B. Goldacre - Truth or Fiction? Any related personal experiences? 4 73 Jun 21, 2016 06:43AM  
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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.” 9 likes
“So, if we're to make any sense of the mess that the pharmaceutical industry - and my profession - has made of the academic literature, then we need an amnesty: we need a full and clear declaration of all the distortions, on missing data, ghostwriting, and all the other activity described in this book, to prevent the ongoing harm that they still cause.” 3 likes
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