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September 7, 2004
Update: (Much) more on this topic here.
Readers are already asking me if I've read Marcia Angell's new book, "The Truth About the Drug Companies." I think that some of you are trying to do me in, hoping I'll completely throw a piston rod or something. It's a real possibility. Angell's take on my industry profoundly irritates me. Here's Janet Maslin's New York Times review of the book from yesterday. She finds the book to be "tough, persuasive, and troubling" although she says that Angell is "likely to be on the receiving end of some angry rebuttals."
I'm glad to pitch in on that worthy effort, but I'm going to try to do it in a larger (and larger-paying!) forum. The thing is, the drug industry deserves some criticism. I've handed out a bit myself. Maslin's review points out Angell's angry words about Claritin/Clarinex and Prilosec/Nexium - hey, join the flippin' club, Marcia. But in this kind of book, the worthwhile stuff gets buried in all the flying horse manure.
To pick just one road apple, Angell is a great fan of the "All The Drug Companies Do Is Rip Off NIH" line - which, I can tell you, most folks in the drug industry have never heard of. (And you should see the expressions on their faces when they do.) There are people who call for drug companies to immediately give up every penny they've made on any marketed drug that had anything to do with an NIH grant. I've spoken about this before, and I'm sure that I will again, but for now, I have just one question:
Can we get reimbursed for all the ones that didn't work?
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