Pharmageddon by David Healy (c 2012)
About 20 years ago, I began having trouble eating. I wan’t even particularly hungry, so that made it hard. I began losing weight, which was okay by me (seems my weight has been a constant seesaw and not in a good way, usually always something bad causes it). The doctors said “stress” and maybe “ulcer” from stress. Watchful waiting was the course of action they opted for, and that, I think, is code for your health insurance won’t pay for any tests and we haven’t a clue without doing an endoscopy or something, and you’re not dying (because no one dies from an ulcer – usually not anyway), so it will be fine. About 30 or 40 pounds later, I continued to express concern that something was seriously wrong. Still, no one seemed concerned; maybe because everyone wants to lose weight?
Looking back now, I cannot decide to laugh or cry. Doctors were telling me stress was causing me to become sick and my employer at the time ended up fighting my sexual harassment claim based on their opinion that stress did not make me sick — because, they claimed, stress does not make you sick.
It was common knowledge at the time, and for many decades before that, that stress does, in fact, make you sick. However it turned out that it does not cause ULCERS, the single most common diagnosis for ulcers was, for many years, stress.
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Money Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs so Much by Maggie Mahar (2006)
Obviously this book is out of date but it does discuss some of the continual issues that plague the US medical and insurance industries under the great invisible hand of the “free” market rules of supply and demand that result in our citizens paying more and more and having inflated medical prices and drug prices forcing people to choose between food and healthcare.
The fundamental reality is that it is NOT APPROPRIATE to apply the “laws” of supply and demand to healthcare.
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Nation on the Take: how big money corrupts our democracy and what we can do about it by Wendell Potter (New York Times bestselling author of Deadly Sin) and Nick Penniman
Alas the rascal that seems to reserve the same books I am reading, thus preventing a renewal so this will have to be short and sweet. You laugh, but I think I can do it.
The Preface sets the tone of the book:
We were drawn to collaborate on this book out of a common sense of love and heartbreak. Love for our country, heartbreak for what is happening to it. . . . Our grand 240-year-old project of self government has been derailed, replaced by a coin-operated system that mainly favors those who can pay to play.
This is not what our American predecessors bled for, not just during the Revolution but during other wars, as well as during money moments of protest and resistance.
Some of the chapter titles show a little dark humor as well: Oligarchy, Gridlock, Cronyism for chapter 3; Too Big to Beat for 4; Fuel Follies 6; Fat Wallets, Expanding Waistlines 7; and more.
An easy guess on the “Expanding Waistlines” is the problem of obesity in America. The book is full of details about things, for example, the amount of money by the “beverage” industry lobby increasing from $22 million to $58 million. And points out that contributions increased as well.
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Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business and a 100 Years of Regulation by Philip J. Hilts (2003)
Wow! What an eyeopening book! Well written and full of very specific circumstances, like why a bad drug is allowed to keep being prescribed when EVERYONE knows it actually kills people and fails as an antibiotic as well. Highly recommend reading this book so that if enough people know about the evils of Big Pharma, maybe we can change things!
p. 130 – Blair [FTC chair] was not sure it [drugs] was a good topic.The economics of it were complex, the industry was new and no one had studied it, no good industry numbers were available, and the industry was riding a popular high because of the success of antibiotics. And, of course, the drug industry had enormous cash reserves, COULD RETALIATE FORCEFULLY and effectively if they did not like the bent of the hearings. But through the years, Till and others had been saving documents and accumulating data, because they knew the day of reckoning for the drug industry would come.
Blair was not convinced until one afternoon when he was looking at FTC reports on about two dozen different industries. Until that time, drug companies had been listed under the CHEMICAL industry. But now, someone at the FTC had broken them out separate.y, and IT STOOD OUT. The pharmaceutical industry was not only the biggest profit maker, but the levels of profits were DOUBLE the industry average, 19% of investment after taxes. Blair called Till [FTC economist serving with Blair] and together they looked at the numbers. “My God, just look at those profits!” he said to her. She allowed that she had never seen any numbers like it in her years as an economist. The decision to go ahead with the investigation of the drug business was taken that day.
Continue reading Protecting America’s Health by Philip J. Hilts