The United States spends an excess of $1.5 trillion annually on health care compared to other wealthy countries—yet the amount of time that Americans live in good health ranks at 68th in the world. At the heart of the problem is Big Pharma, which funds most clinical trials and therefore controls the research agenda, withholds the real data from those trials as corporate secrets, and shapes most of the information relied upon by health care professionals.
This week on The Dhru Purohit Podcast, Dhru sat down with Dr. John Abramson to talk about the inside story of how Big Pharma’s relentless pursuit of ever-higher profits corrupts medical knowledge—misleading doctors, misdirecting American health care, and harming our health. Dr. Abramson shines a light on the dark underbelly of American health care—and presents a path toward genuine reform.
Dr. Abramson is the author of the new book, Sickening, and has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for twenty-five years, where he teaches health care policy. He also served as a family physician for 22 years, during which he was named a “top doctor” six times in local, state, and national surveys. He served as an unpaid consultant to the FBI and Department of Justice, including in a case that resulted in the largest criminal fine in U.S. history. In addition to many academic articles and op-eds in the New York Times and other publications, he is the author of Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. Dr. Abramson has appeared on Today, CNN’s American Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, The Dr. Oz Show, and elsewhere.
In this episode, we dive into:
- Big Pharma’s best-kept secret (10:25)
- Dr. Abramson’s career path from family doctor to expert in pharmaceutical litigation (18:14)
- The first trial of a drug company found guilty of fraud and racketeering (25:34)
- Insulin and the exploitation of diabetes (26:37)
- The core relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors (27:39)
- Understanding absolute risk vs. relative risk for pharmaceutical drugs (31:16)
- How data manipulation led to excess deaths from the drug Vioxx (40:39)
- Why pharmaceutical companies are able to skirt accountability (44:09)
- Where the budget for the FDA to oversee human products comes from (49:52)
- The recent headlines around vaccines for children, boosters, political inputs, and FDA resignations (58:16)
- Health care vs. social care spending in the United States (1:22:18)
- What we can do to actually change the system (1:24:00)
Also mentioned in this episode:
- Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It
- Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine
- Dr. Vinay Prasad
- Peter Doshi: Pfizer and Moderna’s “95% effective” vaccines—we need more details and the raw data
For more on Dhru Purohit, follow him on Instagram @dhrupurohit, on Facebook @dhruxpurohit, on Twitter @dhrupurohit, and on YouTube @dhrupurohit. You can also text Dhru at (302) 200-5643 or click here.
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