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Summary

Shortlisted for: Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012

'Bad Science’ hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science, becoming a 400,000 copy bestseller. Now Ben Goldacre puts the $600bn global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess.

Doctors and patients need good scientific evidence to make informed decisions. But instead, companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design. When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried. All of this is perfectly legal. In fact, even government regulators withhold vitally important data from the people who need it most. Doctors and patient groups have stood by too, and failed to protect us. Instead, they take money and favours, in a world so fractured that medics and nurses are now educated by the drugs industry.

The pharmaceutical industry spends more on marketing than it does on research and development. New diseases are invented in order to swell profits. It distorts and suppresses the results of clinical trials if they are unfavourable. Patients' pressure groups are covertly sponsored by pill manufacturers. Its offences are countless and the consequences are felt by us all. What we trust to cure us may be ineffectual or actually harmful. Patients are harmed in huge numbers.

Ben Goldacre is Britain’s finest writer on the science behind medicine, and ‘Bad Pharma’ is a clear and witty attack, showing exactly how the science has been distorted, how our systems have been broken, and how easy it would be to fix them.

©2012 Ben Goldacre (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lut
  • Antwerpen, Belgium
  • 23-12-12

Every medical doctor should read this!

I am an infectious disease physician. 'Bad Pharma' is a book about the failure of implementing evidence based clinical medicine, the factors contributing to it and the fake fixes. This is an eye opener, useful for all MDs whether involved in clinical trials, receiving pharma reps or going on conference trips with pharma and other “jollies”. (we all say that we are not influenced…) Also interesting is the conflict of interest that Journals have in publishing clinical trials.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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An important book for everyone

A brilliant, witty, shocking and important look at the failures involved in our medicines, not just of the companies themselves but also of regulators, academics who literally hire out their names and reputations and others.

It isn't at all difficult to follow, you need no specialist knowledge, it isn't dry or dull and it talks about things that affect us all.

It is a book that matters and one that will help you make informed decisions about your own health.

Hopefully it will galvanize enough change that in the future we will know if the medicines we take and buy as a society actually do what they claim to.

If I could only recommend one book I have read, it would honestly be this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great listen, heavy on the science

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Essential to anybody remotely related to the medical field. A thought provoking piece for everyone else. A riveting listen - the reader really takes in the author's persona and many many topics that makes one stop and question what so many take for granted in and about the medical field.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bad Pharma?

At the end, the reader interviews the author! Fantastic exchange, also funny moments as the listener till that point associates the voice of the reader to that of the author.

Have you listened to any of Jot Davies’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Realisation how large the problem is that is set out by the author

Any additional comments?

This is a little heavy on the science and medical terms. Even as a doctor, I had to concentrate on a few parts to make sure I didn't lose track. Someone less familiar with the medical world might want to have the book at hand for reference (the print has a glossary, references etc).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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hard going for a layman

really enjoyed Ben's other books but this is just hard going and to in-depth. love the way information is presented and so clearly laid out

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Olivia
  • Waterlooville, United Kingdom
  • 23-12-12

The terrifying world of scientific publications

This brilliantly written yet terrifying book on the world of scientific drugs trials - needs to be read by all. How we are deceived by pharmaceutical companies and how doctors go about prescribing dugs on this biased information is scary and needs to be addressed immediately by all involved. A must read for everyone especially those in the world of scientific research.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Just listen and be ready to be shocked!

This is a must listen/purchase book. If you loved Bad Science and or ever will need modern medicine then you need to listen to this book.



Brilliant 5*

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • Lower King, Australia
  • 23-12-12

Important subject material, well written

More pure gold from Ben Goldacre... his last book 'Bad Science' was a great book, and this one doesn't disappoint... though it is quite a disturbing expose of our broken healthcare system. Very well researched and written, and read by a competent and easy-on-the-ears narrator. I wasn't entirely surprised at the level of corruption in the healthcare industry as revealed in these pages, though I wasn't aware just how many players were implicated. Issues that unfortunately involve most of us, but concern very few of us.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Gobsmacked lo

Literally... I just want to write: OMG WTF OMG WTF OMG WTF until my words get to the max limit for the review. I can't believe what I just heard. As a patient, with no medical training i now feel that we are all part of a giant global Guinea pig trial with no cross communication or even record taking at all.

I loved the interview at the end and like the reader says, this book is extremely accessible even if you have no medical training or prior knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.

I have wanted to listen/read this book for ages but I have been putting it off because I wasn't sure I could handle what I was likely to read. As a patient, I have felt that doctors have not had knowledge of side effects/interactions that I have reported and I've even been advised quack remedies by one doctor. I understand they are only human and acting on the information they have to hand but I am livid that they don't have access to true up to date cross checked data about the medicines they prescribe to us.

I'm going to look for a patient group now.

The reader and the writer are totally fabulous and awesome.

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Brilliantly clear and informative on Pharma flaws

Brilliantly clear and informative on the flaws of the pharmaceutical industry, using as much evidence based information as possible, as well as a few interesting insider anecdotes

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Humans are difficult

Brilliant book, which I highly recommend. The author is inspiring in terms of his thoroughness and clear challenges to the pharma industry, reps, doctors etc. While I do support Goldacre's views - I consider they don't take into account the need medicine (NHS) has in funding that emerges from big pharma. We are in a capitalist culture and so big money and profits drive everything. This is sad but it is reality. We need a benevolent dictator...maybe Goldacre would be a good one!! Read this book!

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  • Oleg V Lapshin
  • 03-08-17

the best book on the topic

evidence based, passionate and practical, i now definitely going to change my attitude to reps and promotional activities

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  • Rees
  • 17-07-15

Excellent

Brilliant. Important book which is well performed. Hopefully read by many doctors and policy makers.

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  • Kevin
  • 11-06-15

Big Pharma exposed by a doctor.

If you could sum up Bad Pharma in three words, what would they be?

Capitalism and Health.

What did you like best about this story?

Dr. Ben Goldacre follows up his introductory book "Bad Science" with a more-detailed critique of Big Pharma.

Excellent insight from a doctor well-versed in prescribing and the frustrations of Big Pharmaceuticals hiding and manipulating trial data, not to mention having a stranglehold over regulators.

However, since Dr. Goldacre is a doctor, his solutions are limited in scope. He does not have a critique of the Financial power structures, where medicine is just one sector. He does not grasp that the Medicine system is working exactly as it is designed to do, it is working quite perfectly! It is designed for profit, and thus the oligarchs will continue to accumulate wealth regardless of the good and harm that results. This is Capitalism. Without a critique of Political Economics/Power structures, there can only be cheap band-aids and no structural fixes.

For a greater understanding of Political Economics and Power structures, highly recommended to read:

-Matt Taibbi: "Griftopia" (a very fun introductory read!)
-David Graeber: "The Democracy Project", "Debt: The First 5000 Years"
-anything by Michael Hudson, research professor of Economics and author of "Super Imperialism"
-George Orwell: "Homage to Catalonia" (classic!)

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  • Hans
  • 11-01-15

Frightening and illuminating

Bad Pharma tells the story of how we know way too little about the drugs we use every day. The author describes complex research in an easily understandable way, and is straight forward about his opinions.

The narrator is excellent, reading the book as if he had written it himself. In portions of the book where the author writes about especially infuriating topics, the narrators voice becomes angry, reflecting the anger of the listener as one realises that the pharmaceutical industry will go to great lengths to sell their drugs.

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  • Taiki
  • 14-07-13

Ben Goldacre: The gentlest assassin

What made the experience of listening to Bad Pharma the most enjoyable?

So this broke my heart, but it is informative and reasoned and complete and gently worded and...you can't easily fault it, except that it will tell you things that you don't want to know.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

We don't know anything we think we know about drugs...and that is terrifying.

Any additional comments?

This is a harder ride than Bad Science, but it was worth it.