Over the last twenty-five years, medicine and consumerism have been
on an unchecked collision course, but, until now, the fallout from
their impact has yet to be fully uncovered. A writer for "The New
Yorker" and "The" "Atlantic Monthly," Carl Elliott ventures into
the uncharted dark side of medicine, shining a light on the series
of social and legislative changes that have sacrificed old-style
doctoring to the values of consumer capitalism. Along the way, he
introduces us to the often shifty characters who work the
production line in Big Pharma: from the professional guinea pigs
who test-pilot new drugs and the ghostwriters who pen "scientific"
articles for drug manufacturers to the PR specialists who
manufacture "news" bulletins. We meet the drug reps who will do
practically anything to make quota in an ever-expanding arms race
of pharmaceutical gift-giving; the "thought leaders" who travel the
world to enlighten the medical community about the wonders of the
latest release; even, finally, the ethicists who oversee all that
commercialized medicine has to offer from their pharma-funded
Taking the pulse of the medical community today, Elliott discovers
the culture of deception that has become so institutionalized many
people do not even see it as a problem. Head-turning stories and a
rogue's gallery of colorful characters become his springboard for
exploring larger ethical issues surrounding money. Are there
certain things that should not be bought and sold? In what ways do
the ethics of business clash with the ethics of medical care? And
what is wrong with medical consumerism anyway? Elliott asks all
these questions and more as he examines the underbelly of medicine.
Beacon Press (MA)
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