In This Review

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients
Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients
By Ben Goldacre
Faber & Faber, 2013, 448 pp

This book levels a scathing attack on large pharmaceutical firms and the officials who regulate them. Goldacre, a British physician, articulately and extensively documents how large pharmaceutical firms have inched up as close as possible to committing outright fraud and occasionally have crossed the threshold. According to Goldacre, major drug companies have financed the ghostwriting of papers supposedly penned by reputable scholars in respectable scientific journals, systematically withheld experimental drug-testing data from public and professional scrutiny, and failed to run promised trials to detect side effects after drugs have been approved for sale. In the face of this unethical behavior, regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have been complacent and negligent. Goldacre believes that a strong dose of sunlight could eventually disinfect the industry, and he calls for full transparency regarding past ghostwritten articles and for the publication of all testing data, except in those few cases in which patient privacy would clearly be infringed. Not incidentally, such steps would also help national health-care programs and patients avoid wasting money on expensive drugs of dubious value.