Pharmageddon? References and NotesThe aim of this paper is to give an overview of the concept of Pharmageddon and the decision to not pepper it with references is deliberate. Rather than try to present and justify the evidence for Pharmageddon, the main objective here is to outline the thinking behind the word. However, a more fully annotated version of the same text is available on the Health Action International website and you can always request further information from Social Audit, if you have doubts or queries on any point. Such requests will be posted on this website, along with our response.
The word, Pharmageddon, has occasionally been used (652 Google citations in July 2007) but has not previously been defined. An early reference to its generic meaning appeared in 2004, but the definition of Pharmageddon formally proposed in this paper was arrived at following a seminar in London, April 2007. This involved Professor Graham Dukes, Dr Andrew Herxheimer, Professor David Healy, Charles Medawar, Dr Tim Reed, and two professional advisers: Donna Sharpe and Susan Powell. (More)
After much discussion and many revisions, the definition of Pharmageddon finally agreed was: "the prospect of a world in which medicines and medicine produce more ill-health than health, and when medical progress does more harm than good". To explore and elaborate the risks, we have now issued a Call for Abstracts, for a conference on Pharmageddon? we are aiming to hold next year.Pharmageddon? The added question mark underlines the point of having such a word - to ask how much of a threat it is. Is the evidence not at all worrying? Should we simply take for granted that drug benefits outweigh harms, and lead to health? Only by defining Pharmageddon as an end point, can one be sure that it is kept far, far away.
The following list identifies some major sources of further information about the issues discussed in the text.
Angell M: The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do about It. Random House, 2004.
Avorn J: Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.
Braithwaite J: Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984
Healy D: Let Them Eat Prozac;
House of Commons Health Committee: The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry. Volume 1: report together with formal minutes; vol 2: Formal minutes oral and written evidence. London: The Stationery Office, March 2005
Kassirer J P: On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can
Endanger Your Health.
Medawar C, Hardon A: Medicines out of Control?
Antidepressants and the Conspiracy of Goodwill (
Sans Frontieres. Numerous reports but see, for example: Will the lifeline of
affordable medicines for poor countries be cut? 25 February 2005; Amendment to WTO TRIPS
agreement makes access to affordable medicines even more bleak; 6 December 2005; MSF reaction to G8 declaration on
Moore T J: Deadly Medicine - Why Tens of Thousands of Heart Patients Died in America's Worst Drug Disaster, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1995
Moynihan R, Cassels A: Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All into Patients, Nation Books, 2005
Price Waterhouse Coopers: Pharma 2020: The Vision, available at pwc.com/pharma
Thomas L., The
health-care system, in The Medusa and the Snail - more notes of a biology watcher,
World Health Organisation: The World Health Report; Geneva: WHO, annual.
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