From Britain (but not parochially British): a strong case for reconsidering our dependence on prescription drugs, with some...

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CURED TO DEATH: The Effects of Prescription Drugs

From Britain (but not parochially British): a strong case for reconsidering our dependence on prescription drugs, with some suggested recourses. Psychopharmacologist Melville and journalist Johnson do not object to drugs per se, but to the pervasiveness of drug therapy in Western medicine; and they don't expect procedural or regulatory changes to solve the problem. In the early 1900s, they recount, Americans and Britons were seduced by the idea of a magic-bullet remedy for every disease, to be found if researchers only looked hard enough. The ""bullet"" was a chemical which would kill parasites within the body; the ""magic"" was the chemical's ability to select the parasite and ignore the host. Thus was created the two-fold problem that Melville and Johnson illustrate again and again: disregard of the real origins of disease, and a plague of side effects. Some examples (like thalidomide) will be all-too-familiar to readers; others even more recent have received little publicity. Practolol, for example, was widely prescribed for heart and blood pressure problems by British physicians who didn't bother to suggest lifestyle changes to patients; it was eventually shown to have severe side effects such as inflammation and scarring of the abdominal cavity. First, say Melville and Johnson, we should recognize that the Pasteur legacy is running out: present-day disease patterns are multi-causal, and usually environmental. Investigation and revamping of the pharmaceutical industry are called for. But, most important, physicians should diagnose more carefully, and rely less on pharmaceutical therapies--while patients could stop demanding such treatment. Though there has been much exposure of drug-industry abuses, on the one hand, and much extolling of holistic medicine, on the other, the angle here is new, the analysis valuable and welcome.

Pub Date: April 15, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stein & Day

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983