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Healthy Skepticism Updates

Healthy Skepticism Update 13 Novemer 2010

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Systematic review: Information from Pharma and prescribing quality, quantity and cost
A major systematic review titled “Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians’ Prescribing” by Healthy Skepticism member Geoff Spurling and others has been published by PLoS Medicine.

See the review at:
and an editorial titled “Doctors and Drug Companies: Still Cozy after All These Years” by David Henry at:

Read or listen to Geoff Spurling’s interview about the study on ABC Radio National’s Health Report (Australia) at:

New Book: The Risks of Prescription Drugs
How did prescribed drugs become a leading cause of death?

A new report and book from Columbia University Press explains why an estimated 46 million Americans suffer from the side effects of prescription drugs, and 2.2 million are hospitalized. This epidemic makes prescription drugs a leading cause of death. Yet it is neglected by teachers and leaders of medicine, nursing, epidemiology, health & society, and public health.

Edited and co-authored by Donald Light, The Risks of Prescription Drugs describes how most drugs approved by regulators provide few if any advantages over existing drugs to offset their risks of side effects. Women, vulnerable elders, and people with disabilities are most affected. The book identifies the Risk Proliferation Syndrome, a set of institutional practices that maximizes the number of people exposed to drugs of little benefit but substantial risks.

Most side effects are mild but can impair judgment, mood, or coordination. Falls, accidents, and other kinds of injury may result. About 1 in 5 new drugs causes enough harm to receive a warning or be withdrawn in the first decade of use.

Health policy experts Howard Brody, Peter Conrad, Allan Horwitz, Donald Light, and Cheryl Stults describe the proliferation of new “diseases” and health conditions that greatly increase the number of people expose to adverse side effects.  A concluding chapter on health policy recommends how rules and incentives can be changed to make drugs safer. 

Paper $15.00 167 pages ISBN:  9780-231-14693-7   Hardcover $46.00
Available online at Type “Risks of Prescription Drugs” in search box.

FOR STUDENTS   Use The Risks of Prescription Drugs as a short supplement to courses in public health, epidemiology, health and aging, gender, disability, medical sociology, and minority studies. For an examination copy for course adoptions, go to To request a review copy, write to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Symposium: To Do No Harm, Toronto, 29 November 2010
The UBC Pharmaceutical Policy Research Collaboration together with researchers from an international study on Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives and Patient Safety present a symposium:
To Do No Harm: Regulation of pharmaceutical promotion and protection of patient health

Monday, November 29, 2010 from 9 am to 5 pm
Four Seasons Hotel, 21 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

For more information and to register online, see Upcoming Events at:
Contact: Research Coordinator Ellen Reynolds at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone +1.778.430‐2180

Conference: Towards New Models of Innovation, Brussels, 18 November 2010
Can We Afford the Current Model of Medical Innovation?

18 November 2010, 09:00 – 13:50
European Parliament, Brussels

To register for this event, please request a registration form from Marine Avrillon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

If you want to be removed from this mailing list, please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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You are going to have many difficulties. The smokers will not like your message. The tobacco interests will be vigorously opposed. The media and the government will be loath to support these findings. But you have one factor in your favour. What you have going for you is that you are right.
- Evarts Graham
When truth is unwelcome: the first reports on smoking and lung cancer.