T.J. Moore, Hidden dangers of antidepressants, The Washingtonian, December 1997, 68-71 and 140-145.

This important and accessible review casts much doubt on the safety and efficacy of SSRIs, especially sertraline and venlafaxine. It also raises big questions about the adequacy of FDA drug licensing procedures and, by implication, of other licensing authorities too. Rather than review here the detail of the findings - and to underline the need to closely read the whole article - here are some extracts from two very appreciative (professional) reviews. The first is of one of Moore's several earlier books [Deadly Medicine: why tens of thousands of patients died in America's worst drug disaster (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995)]; the second, shorter review (scroll down) is of his latest book [Prescription for Disaster: The Hidden Dangers in Your Medicine Cabinet, Simon & Schuster, 1998]. Note that Moore welcomes feedback and can be reached via: ihotjm@mail.gwumc.edu

"Imagine running into an explication of one-sided versus two-sided hypothesis tests, interim analysis and sequential stopping rules, utility of surrogate endpoints, and other statistical subtleties of modern clinical trials in a book whose title echoes a headline of a supermarket tabloid. Yet, during an hour or so of casual browsing in a bookstore, that is what I fortuitously did …

"The substantive focus of the book is a class of drugs used to control irregular heart rhythms. These were widely prescribed in the 1980s. By the end of the decade they were withdrawn from use for the most common of the indications. In the meantime, they had inflicted damage on an unprecedented scale. Among the US population, the casualties were estimated to approach levels close to those of the war in Vietnam...

"Thomas J Moore's Deadly Medicine, in which the RCT features prominently, breaks fresh ground ... The title notwithstanding, it is neither a simplistic account, nor a sensational parody. I devoured it as an engaging saga in which a complex and weighty issue is treated in a colourful form without compromise on matters of substance. A seminal contribution indeed, precisely along the lines that can help bridge the philosophical and conceptual divide between the public and the statistician. That was my judgement as I closed the covers of this text..." (Hikji KF, Book review, Statistics in Medicine, 1997, 16, 2507-2510…)

Back issues of The Washingtonian cost $5.50, inclusive of postage. Note: they don't take credit cards, but cash is OK. Write to The Washingtonian, Attention Library, 1828 L Street NW, Suite 200, Washington DC 20036, USA. Telephone: (202) 296 3600, and ask for the Librarian.

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T J Moore Prescription for Disaster: The Hidden Dangers in Your Medicine Cabinet, Simon & Schuster, 1998

The following review is from the 15 February 1998 Booklist section of American Library Journal. Additional detail at www.amazon.com:

"Moore writes superbly and unsensationally about the woes of prescription drugs. Sure, he relays some horror stories of mistaken medication, but he does it not to rabble-rouse but to focus attention on specific problems, such as the use of medicine too strong for the particular complaint or the careless prescribing of contraindicated drugs to the same patient. He carefully manages his material and his tone in order to thrust home his main points: that pharmaceuticals requiring prescription are powerful and incompletely understood by manufacturers and doctors as well as patients; that the barriers to better understanding are endemic to our system of producing, testing, marketing, and using drugs; and that proactive patients can change a situation in which more die yearly from inappropriate prescriptions than from murder, suicide, and all transportation accidents combined--even if they change it only for themselves, one by one. Riveting in its exposition and cogent in its practical advice--if this is muckraking, it is sober, well-balanced, and fair-minded muckraking."

Copyrightę 1998, American Library Association. All rights reserved

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