Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre

This is a grim read. Goldacre makes it as readable and fun as he possibly can but this the point he is making is that the whole system of medicine is a big con, and based on lies. He argues that the pharmaceutical industry have been producing distorted and unrepresentative data on their products since forever. He says that doctors have no real possibility of being able to properly prescribe a drug because they have no idea what works and what does not. Also, there will never ever be a way of telling what drugs work until the pharmaceutical industry admit their lies, throw everything away, and start all over again from scratch.

Yes, it’s grim. It is worth a read, though, and Goldacre gives the reader permission to skim through some of it, which is good, because, unless you love to discuss the minutiae of clinical trials, you will have to. I am by no means a scientist but I am a lover of correct, clear and useful data and Goldacre makes some great suggestions about how trial results could be presented in a clear, helpful and honest way.

Goldacre also makes suggestions about what we, the person on the street, or patient in the hospital, might do to help the situation, but we are a very long way from having the power to make any dent at all in the side of the massively powerful pharmaceutical companies. Still, worth a read if you enjoy getting annoyed about things you can do nothing about, and if you want to be at least a little bit informed about what you might be putting in to your body.

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