Although this audio book has been available now for several years, it is no less riveting for the fact that it has yet to be updated. Marcia Angell, M.D., uses her background as a doctor and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine to expose the foibles of the pharmaceutical industry in “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It”. And if you have ever grumbled about the cost of prescriptions, worried that drug companies don’t adequately test new products, or wondered what goes on in Washington where big-money pharmaceutical companies are concerned, this audio book will answer all of your questions (although you will likely find the truth at turns terrifying and morally reprehensible).
Angell opens with a startling fact: as of 2004, the pharmaceutical industry in America was pulling in $200 billion a year and their revenues were increasing at a rate of 12% per year. This is all money coming out of the pockets of hard-working American citizens. And you know that it’s true because it seems like every time you renew a prescription the price has gone up or your insurance provider has taken it off their list of approved (and covered) drugs. This is because drug companies are always pushing newer, more expensive options, and they may jack up the price several times each year. But are these “new” drugs any better than the old ones? Are they even a different drug or have pharmaceutical companies simply done “research and development” (i.e. slightly tweaked the old drug), added some new packaging, and found a cost-saving method to charge their customers more money?
According to Angell, pharmaceutical companies are basically rotten to the core. They will stop at almost nothing to control the American market, ensure that their drugs are the only real option, and then jack up the prices that consumers pay simply because they can. Of course, this is a dramatically oversimplified assessment of the issue, but Angell goes into great depths in her audio book to paint the whole picture in a way that laymen can follow. She describes the processes that pharmaceutical companies use to create new drugs (and patents), make knockoffs of popular name brands, market drugs through “education”, bribe or intimidate doctors to push new drugs, lobby in Washington, and basically use their money and influence to gain more money and influence.
Unfortunately, the drug companies are also shooting themselves in the foot. Angell explains how a business model that ultimately swindles its customers is simply not sustainable. And that’s exactly what pharma is doing each time they overcharge an elderly patient for heart medication or push a drug that is new, but doesn’t work as well as the old one. As any pharm d, doctor, or other type of practitioner in the medical industry can probably tell you, pharmaceutical companies are bullies of the worst sort. And what’s even sadder about the situation is that they’re hurting the very patrons that they’re supposed to protect. So whether you’re angry about drug companies in general or you simply want to understand how it all works and how it can be fixed, Angell can give you the answers you seek in her audio book exposé of the pharmaceutical industry.