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The Pill BookReview - The Pill Book
Ninth Edition
by Harold Silverman (editor)
Bantam Books, 2000
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Nov 29th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 48)

With over 1151 pages, this is a hard book to open without worrying splitting the spine, unless you are already taking your Xanax. Drugs are listed by their technical names, so if you look up Zoloft, you are told to look for Sertraline. If you are looking for Prozac, you will need to look up Flouxetine. Not all the brand names are cross-listed in the main body of the book, but they are in the index at the back. There are 32 pages of photographs of the medications, which obviously can't include all the drugs listed in the book, but do contain some of the most popular ones.

The book gives all the information you are likely to need. It is roughly the same as your pharmacist normally provides in the information sheet accompanying filled prescriptions. The language used is mostly simple, accessible to a general readership, although it does also use terms that will not be familiar to ordinary pill-takers. For example, knowing that Pindolol is a beta-adrenergic blocking agent will not leave most people much the wiser. On reading that Quinidine is an antiarrhythmic, you might spend some time working out how to pronounce the word - why are there two "r"s in the middle of it?

Sometimes entries include some scientific information. For example, animal studies on Nimodomine have it can cause fetal malformation. But this is only included to explain why women who are or might be pregnant should not take it. Nearly all the information here is highly functional. If you plan to really educate about the science of the medications you are or might be taking, you will probably want a more detailed specialized book.

For those readers, like myself, who are normally in pretty good physical health and only have to worry about the psychiatric medication you are taking, this book probably has too much information. I'll probably still go to a more specialized text the next time I get prescribed a new medication; my favorite is still Prozac and the New Antidepressants for antidepressants, and The Mind/Mood Pill Book is good guide for a wider range of psychotropic medication.

© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life. He is available to give talks on many philosophical or controversial issues in mental health.


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