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Poison Pills: The Untold Story of the Vioxx…
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Poison Pills: The Untold Story of the Vioxx Drug Scandal

by Tom Nesi

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I'm not quite done with the book yet, but - while I'm finding it to be an interesting read and will certainly finish it all the way through - the author does have a couple weaknesses that are making it a bit more of a slog than it would be otherwise.

In several places, the author will make a reference to something that was either inappropriately handled or resulted in information other than what the scientists were expecting or wanted to hear. Then either a few pages or - at most - a couple of chapters later, he returns to the same subject, and builds up to revealing the exact same information as if we're going to be surprised, even though he's already told us what he's now trying to surprise us with. (It's hard to explain, but I hope that makes sense!)

The other is that he will sometimes give us information from a study, then later references what appears like it should be the same data, but it's different. The best example I can give of this is at one point, he's talking about results from two studies that were being done. He tells us that in the first study, there were 13 deaths in the experimental group with only 3 in the control group. In the second study, he says there were 21 deaths in the experimental group and only 9 in the placebo group. Then he writes "If the deaths in the studies are combined, there are 57 dealths in the Vioxx group and 29 in the placebo group." Based on what he'd just told us about the number of deaths from each study, it seems the totals should be 34 in the experimental (Vioxx) group and 11 in the control (placebo) group. I have no idea where the other 23 deaths in the experimental group or the 18 extra deaths in the control group are coming from.

The author also does seem to ramble around a bit in time. It's not an entirely linear story nor is it told via flashbacks. He just seems to shift around from the mid-90's to the mid-2000's and back without always giving a lot of warning.

Aside from those issues, however, the book is quite informative, especially regarding how pharmaceutical companies can manipulate science to make their drugs look more effective or less harmful than they actually are, and how they work to intimidate doctors who have the impertenance to ask questions when they become concerned.

On the whole, I'd reccomend it to anyone interested in an inside look at the pharmaceutical industry, just be sure to pay attention so you can keep up with the time switches. ( )
  thorswitch | Feb 16, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031236959X, Hardcover)

To the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain and arthritis, Vioxx seemed like a miracle. One of the most widely promoted and prescribed pain medications in the world -- used by more than twenty million people -- it was endorsed by the medical establishment and celebrities such as Olympic champion figure skater Dorothy Hamill. With annual sales of $2.5 billion, Vioxx became a pharmaceutical bonanza before being abruptly taken off the market in September 2004, after it was revealed that it led to an increased risk of heart-related disease and death.

Drawing on internal documents, video footage, court testimony, and exclusive interviews, as well as three decades of experience inside the medical industry, Tom Nesi tells the dramatic story of what the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, knew and when. It is a compelling narrative of business and medical science run amok, with a cast of characters ranging from those at the highest levels of the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry to research scientists, marketers, and drug company sales reps. Here also are accounts from physicians, lawyers, financial analysts, and patients and their families whose lives have been forever altered by Vioxx.

Set against a fascinating history of the origins of the modern pharmaceutical industry, POISON PILLS is a shocking tale that involves the breakdown of the United States medical system, the failures of the Food and Drug Administration, and enormous profits made by a large pharmaceutical corporation at the potential cost of thousands of lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:11 -0400)

Examines the corporate greed, cover-ups, failures of the FDA, and profiteering that led to the rise and fall of Vioxx, at one time the fastest-selling drug in pharmaceutical history, until it was revealed that it led to increased risk of heart ailments and death.… (more)

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