The Risks of Prescription Drugs

Edited by Donald W. Light

Columbia University Press

The Risks of Prescription Drugs

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Pub Date: October 2010

ISBN: 9780231146937

184 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $20.00£15.00

Pub Date: October 2010

ISBN: 9780231146920

184 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£44.00

Pub Date: October 2010

ISBN: 9780231519267

184 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $19.99£15.00

The Risks of Prescription Drugs

Edited by Donald W. Light

Columbia University Press

Few people realize that prescription drugs have become a leading cause of death, disease, and disability. Adverse reactions to widely used drugs, such as psychotropics and birth control pills, as well as biologicals, result in FDA warnings against adverse reactions.

The Risks of Prescription Drugs describes how most drugs approved by the FDA are under-tested for adverse drug reactions, yet offer few new benefits. Drugs cause more than 2.2 million hospitalizations and 110,000 hospital-based deaths a year. Serious drug reactions at home or in nursing homes would significantly raise the total. Women, older people, and people with disabilities are least used in clinical trials and most affected.

Health policy experts Donald Light, Howard Brody, Peter Conrad, Allan Horwitz, and Cheryl Stults describe how current regulations reward drug companies to expand clinical risks and create new diseases so millions of patients are exposed to unnecessary risks, especially women and the elderly. They reward developing marginally better drugs rather than discovering breakthrough, life-saving drugs.

The Risks of Prescription Drugs tackles critical questions about the pharmaceutical industry and the privatization of risk. To what extent does the FDA protect the public from serious side effects and disasters? What is the effect of giving the private sector and markets a greater role and reducing public oversight? This volume considers whether current rules and incentives put patients' health at greater risk, the effect of the expansion of disease categories, the industry's justification of high U.S. prices, and the underlying shifts in the burden of risk borne by individuals in the world of pharmaceuticals. Chapters cover risks of statins for high cholesterol, SSRI drugs for depression and anxiety, and hormone replacement therapy for menopause. A final chapter outlines six changes to make drugs safer and more effective.

Suitable for courses on health and aging, gender, disability, and minority studies, this book identifies the Risk Proliferation Syndrome that maximizes the number of people exposed to these risks.

Additional Columbia / SSRC books on the privatization of risk and its implications for Americans:

Bailouts: Public Money, Private ProfitEdited by Robert E. Wright

Disaster and the Politics of InterventionEdited by Andrew Lakoff

Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System-and How to Heal ItEdited by Jacob S. Hacker

Laid Off, Laid Low: Political and Economic Consequences of Employment InsecurityEdited by Katherine S. Newman

Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of RiskEdited by Mitchell A. Orenstein

Although many are aware that pharmaceutical industry lobbyists influence policy decisions, few know the full consequences. In this enlightening book, some of the nation's leading health policy experts expose the risks to Americans posed by the pharmaceutical industry.

Jill Quadagno, former president of the American Sociological Association, author of The Transformation of Old Age Security

The Risks of Prescription Drugs explains in clear, concise, and unflinching language the consequences of ignoring the discrepancy between the drug industry's private interests and the public service we hope and naïvely expect from them. This book provides consumers with tools for self-defense and concerned citizens with a road map for rebalancing American medicine.

John Abramson, Harvard Medical School, author of Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine

This volume introduces important debates on pharmaceutical promotion and marketing, needed drug evaluation and regulation, professional conflicts of interest, and increased medicalization of behavior. It explores important trends and policy questions that all engaged citizens should consider.

David Mechanic, Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, and author of The Truth About Health Care: Why Reform Is Not Working in America

This is a sensible, readable and constructive book that could in various respects open the reader's eyes, and then lead him, with his eyes wide open, along the road to a healthier world.

M.N.G. Dukes, International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine

This well-referenced title will be of particular interest to prescribers, but I recommend it to all healthcare professionals.

Roger Evans, Nursing Standard
1. Bearing the Risks of Prescription Drugs, by Donald W. Light
2. The Food and Drug Administration: Inadequate Protection from Serious Risks, by Donald W. Light
3. The Commercialization of Medical Decisions: Physicians and Patients at Risk, by Howard Brody
4. Pharmaceuticals and the Medicalization of Social Life, by Allan V. Horwitz
5. Medicalization and Risk Scares: The Case of Menopause and HRT, by Cheryl Stults and Peter Conrad
Epilogue. Toward Safer Prescribing and Better Drugs, by Donald W. Light
List of Contributors
Web Features:

About the Author

Donald W. Light is professor of social medicine and comparative health care at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a senior visiting researcher at Princeton.