The Truth about Drug Companies- 4 great books about pharmaceuticals

There are a lot of publications and books out there about the pharmaceutical industry. Many of these can be quite negative in their outlook, particularly in relation to the American drug industry which has not had the best press in years gone by.

Below I have listed 4 of my favourite published exposés on the pharmaceuticals industry and why I think they are worth reading.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootHenrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is well known to scientists for her cells taken from cervical cancer. In her life, she was a poor Southern tobacco farm hand who worked to tend to the same land as her slave ancestors. However, her cells have created massive advances in the drug industry. However, they were taken without her knowledge and without adequate financial recognition.

HeLa cells were instrumental in creating the polio vaccine. Her cells have uncovered many secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects. They have also helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilisation, cloning, and gene mapping. Her cells have been bought and sold by the billions. All this and yet, Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

In 1951, Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the biopsy, cell samples were taken from Lacks and given to a researcher. Henrietta’s cancer spread wildly, and she was dead within a year. But her cells turned out to be an incredible discovery because they continued growing at a very fast rate.

Rebecca Skloot has written this fascinating book which outlines exactly why Henrietta’s cells were so important and why her contribution to medicine went unrecognised for decades.

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben GoldacreThis book starts by suggesting that medicine is broken. We like to imagine that it’s based on evidence and the results of fair tests, but in reality, those tests are often miraculously broken. We like to imagine that doctors are familiar with the research literature surrounding a drug, when sadly much of the research is hidden by drug companies.

Goldacre has a way of making complex science subjects accessible to the wider public. What he reveals is frankly quite frightening. He describes the way that the industry hides a large majority of the trial data, the way that legislation requiring data to be published is ignored by many, and in the EU it is still secret in some cases.

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John AbramsonUsing examples such as Vioxx, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, Celebrex, and anti-depressants — ‘Overdosed America’ describes how at the heart of the current crisis in American medicine lies the commercialisation of medical knowledge.

I knew that America’s medical system was slightly broken, but I didn’t think that it was all that bad. The information here is a little dated now, but I still see so much of it going on in health care, at least from my perspective (I am not an insider).

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia AngellCurrently, Americans spend close to $200 billion each year on prescription drugs. As Dr. Angell powerfully describes here in her book, claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded. The truth instead is that drug companies funnel the bulk of their resources into the marketing of products which actually have questionable benefits. Meanwhile, as profits continue to grow exponentially, the drug companies brazenly use their wealth and power to push their agenda through government.

This book is frankly, indispensable. Angell exposes the lies of the big pharmaceutical companies use to justify the overpriced drugs they sell.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the supplier of your medication before you take it. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this post. They helped answer my questions about the authenticity of drug providers. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the most authentic and sustainable businesses that they can be.

3 Great books about Medication

Medication plays a key role in all of our lives. I’ve been reading a lot of books recently about the medical industry and how drugs aren’t all that can help us to recover from illness.

Below are three of my favourite books on the subject:

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James Patterson

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James PattersonMed Head is a book which describes how it feels to have a body that won’t stop moving. This is a well woven tale about how it is to be different from everyone else, to be made fun of every day and how to break free and take control.

This book is about Cory, a young man who narrates his life and describes how it feels to grow up with tourette’s syndrome. The story examines the huge affect this has had on his life. Med Head does an incredible job of explaining what its like to deal with a mental disorder.

Having suffered from mental and physical illnesses in my life, I feel that I know a little bit about what it’s like not to have any control over your body or your mind. I really connected with this book.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he is a doctor treating the dying, and the next, he becomes a patient who struggles to live.

Breath Becomes Air tells the tale of Kalanithi’s transformation from student into a neurosurgeon working on the core of human identity – the brain.

Tragically, Paul Kalanithi died whilst writing this profoundly moving book, and yet, his writing lives on as a guide to us all on how to survive in adverse circumstances.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul GawandeAtul Gawande uses this book to approach the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can improve life whilst also being used to bring about its end.

Medicine has really triumphed in recent times, transforming how we give birth, treat injuries and infectious disease – taking each of these from harrowing life-changes to manageable conditions. However, hospitals continue to isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of the cure are passed considering. Doctors, committed to extending life, spend time carrying out shocking procedures, that all to often extend suffering than reduce it.

It took me a good few months to discover the courage to read this book. I know that this seems strange to be scared of a book, but the topic of mortality, considered so heavily here, is so depressing that I put aside reading it. But I am so glad that I did. I would wholeheartedly recommend Being Mortal to anybody interested in learning more about end-of-life decisions… and please don’t be scared.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the medication you take. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this blog. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the best and most sustainable businesses that they can be.