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Health Scare

Date: 11-25-04
Host: George Noory
Guests: Dr. John Abramson

Dr. John Abramson, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Medical School, discussed his book Overdosed America, which explains how the American health care system has been hijacked by pharmaceutical companies searching for increased profits.

Abramson said drug companies have infiltrated all legitimate sources of medical information, allowing them to produce "the knowledge that makes us believe we need their products." He estimated that 70-80% of medical journal articles are strongly influenced by commercialized drug interests. According to Abramson, research sponsored by pharmaceutical companies is five times more likely to show a given drug favorably.

As an example, Abramson cited a study conducted by drug manufacturer Merck of its own arthritis medicine Vioxx. He claimed Merck knew in 2000 that Vioxx increased heart attack and stroke risk in patients taking the drug, and caused 21% more serious complications than older rival drug Naproxen (sold under the name Aleve). Despite their findings, Merck spun the results and heavily marketed Vioxx to consumers until numerous Vioxx-related cardiovascular complications forced them to recall the drug, Abramson reported.

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