Medications & Psychiatry

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Psychiatry Under the InfluenceAlternatives Beyond PsychiatryAmerican MadnessAmerican PsychosisAn Unquiet MindAntipsychiatryBad PharmaBefore ProzacBetter Than ProzacBiological PsychiatryBipolar, Not So MuchBlack Man in a White CoatBlaming the BrainBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrainwashedClinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously SimpleComfortably NumbCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyComplete Mental HealthConcise Guide to PsychopharmacologyCrackedCritical PsychiatryCultural FormulationDeconstructing PsychosisDemystifying PsychiatryDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDiagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety DisorderDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisordered Personalities and CrimeDoctoring the MindDoctors of DeceptionDrop the Disorder!DruggedDrugs for LifeEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEssential PsychopharmacologyEssential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar DisorderEssentials of Psychiatric DiagnosisEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEthics in PsychiatryEvidence-Based Treatment of Personality DysfunctionExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessFinding the Right Psychiatrist:Forces of HabitHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHappy Pills in AmericaHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHerbs for the MindHigh PriceHippocrates CriedHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHookedHuman TrialsInfectious MadnessInspired SleepIntoxicating MindsIs It Me or My Meds?Let Them Eat ProzacLife-Threatening Effects of Antipsychotic DrugsLitLiving with Bipolar DisorderMad in AmericaMad ScienceMalignant SadnessMedicating ChildrenMedicating Modern AmericaMental Health in Asia and the PacificMind FixersMoments of EngagementMommy I'm Still in HereNatural Healing for DepressionNo One Cares About Crazy PeopleNot CrazyOrdinarily WellOur Daily MedsOverdosed AmericaPathologist of the MindPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPharmaceutical FreedomPharmacracyPharmageddonPharmageddonPhilosophical Issues in PharmaceuticsPoets on ProzacPower HerbsPowerful MedicinesPrescriptions for the MindProfits Before People?Prozac and the New AntidepressantsProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac DiaryProzac on the CouchPsychiatric DiagnosisPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatrists and Traditional HealersPsychiatry and EmpirePsychiatry and the Business of MadnessPsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry at a GlancePsychiatry in PrisonsPsychiatry ReconsideredPsychopathyPsychopharmacology Problem SolvingPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePsychotropic Drugs And Popular CulturePsychotropic Drugs: Fast FactsRaising Generation RxRe-Visioning PsychiatryRecovery from SchizophreniaReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySaving NormalSchizophreniaShock TherapyShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShrinksSide EffectsSometimes Amazing Things HappenStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsSuccessful PsychopharmacologySuffer the ChildrenTaking America Off DrugsTalking Back to ProzacTextbook of Cultural PsychiatryThe $800 Million PillThe Age of AnxietyThe Anti-Depressant Fact BookThe Antidepressant EraThe Antidepressant SolutionThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Big FixThe Book of WoeThe Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesThe Conceptual Evolution of DSM-5The CorrectionsThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Cult of PharmacologyThe Dream DrugstoreThe Emperor's New DrugsThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2006The Making of DSM-III®The Medical Model in Mental HealthThe Medicated ChildThe Medication QuestionThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind/Mood Pill BookThe Natural Pharmacist : Natural Health Bible from the Most Trusted Alternative Health Site in the World The Pill BookThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe PlaceboThe Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial ModelThe Sedated SocietyThe Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Use and Misuse of Psychiatric DrugsThe World of CaffeineThomas S. SzaszToxic PsychiatryTrouble in MindTry to RememberTry to RememberTwilight of American SanityUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnhingedVoluntary MadnessWarning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental HealthWhat Is Mental Illness?What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5What Works for Whom?Will@epicqwest.comWomen, Madness and MedicineYour Drug May Be Your Problem

Related Topics
The $800 Million PillReview - The $800 Million Pill
The Truth behind the Cost of New Drugs
by Merrill Goozner
University of California Press, 2005
Review by David M. Wolf, M.A.
Feb 27th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 9)

This highly factual account of the recent histories of drug research and development is for readers who really want to know about prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical industry. Such readers would be people who are deeply concerned about untreated diseases for which drugs are desperately wanted; people suffering from such diseases and disorders; those worried that not enough is being done to prevent and cure disease in this country and around the globe; and especially, the millions of people who want the cost of drugs to come down.

There are a number of distinct subjects tied somewhat loosely together in this book's composition. First, the author presents a detailed narrative of a "long search" for Epo, a decisive enzyme in the production of red blood cells and long sought as a potential cure for aplastic anemia and other maladies. The search was the lonely obsession of one brave scientist, Eugene Goldwasser, whose decades-enduring quest left him a somewhat depressed University of Chicago professor without a result. But his story didn't end there, because a researcher in Japan, Takaji Myake, in an act of profound scientific serendipity, offered to provide Goldwasser with human urine collected from persons with aplastic anemia and those materials eventually produced the breakthrough. Soon an entire industry, biotechnology, evolved from this work. Companies like Amgen made millions on Goldwasser's molecules while the old professor made nothing (because he forgot to secure the patent he applied for--"too busy" researching). So, the subject here is a history of science and a paradigm of how one industry evolved out of the twilight struggle of one perhaps great man.

The other subjects are, in the order they appear, the dramatic narrative of the AIDS crisis and the search for drugs, and later, drug cocktails effective against HIV retrovirus; the largely unsuccessful "war on cancer" and the many drugs associated with it; the many "me too" drugs that have come to dominate drug companies' research and development efforts, crowding out real innovation and authentic research; and finally, the title subject, the $800 million pill, that is, the high cost of developing any new drug which turns out to be not nearly as high as the industry wants the public and the government to believe.

Together these weighty subjects comprise a virtual textbook on the recent history of the pharmaceutical industry, and this is a good thing. The book has a wide vision encompassing the most important questions concerning the major diseases affecting both modern society and the undeveloped world. The names of all the key researchers, essays about their backgrounds, the participating companies in the biotech and drug fields, the important drugs and their histories of funding and development--all these are detailed and placed into historical perspective for review. And in the end, the economics of these industries are laid bare, their dependence upon governments and universities are carefully examined and confirmed, and the true cost of discovering and developing each new drug is pegged closer to $250 million, on average, than the industry's claim that it takes $800 million. Goozner says that the importance of refuting the industry's claim is paramount: the high cost has been used to buttress the industry's notoriously high prices for new drugs.

If the book-author's chief purpose was to expose how the biotech industry and the pharmaceutical giants have driven up the cost of drugs, he succeeds at this. But if the deeper purposes include arming readers with what they need to help lower prices, the result is less certain. Many prominent shops emerge along Goozner's narrative boulevard, but it's not clear where the pavement leads us. We discover at the end that, indeed, the industry-touted figure of $800 million (average) to develop any new drug is bogus. The actual cost, murky and hard to define after tax write-offs, etc., may be only one-third of $800 million. But what's it prove? Industries inflate their difficulties when it serves--tell us something we don't know. Industries lie to the public and the government to get what they want--same thing.

What can anybody do about this dreadful state of affairs in which so much human misery is grounded? We get only a short sketch of possibilities in the last chapter. This seems out of balance with the long investigation into the recent history of the industry.


© 2007 David M. Wolf

David M. Wolf, M.A. has been leading a Philosophy Evening twice- monthly for the past year at Yoga Bookstore & Cafe in Honesdale, PA.  He is the author of Philosophy That Works, a book about the foundations of knowledge, truth, and philosophy; you can read sections at Google Book Search or Chapter One at David is presently working on a new novel, and a  growing collection of sonnets, and other works



Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716