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White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine
Synopses & Reviews
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 perches.
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.
"While most people are vaguely aware of the uncomfortable symbiosis between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, few would believe the flagrant bribery and brow-beating that occurs, according to Elliott's (Better Than Well) latest. Pharmaceutical companies have overwhelming influence over research studies, grant funding, and the decisions or suggestions that doctors make regarding the care of their patients. As the financial stakes continue to increase, the pharmaceutical industry has an even greater incentive to obfuscate potentially harmful findings about their products. Elliot, a professor of bioethics at the University of Minnesota, methodically exposes every aspect of the connection between Big Pharma and medicine, interviewing experiment subjects, doctors, pharmaceutical sales reps, and others on the frontlines of the issue to give readers a thorough understanding of what lies behind a simple prescription. Employing often shocking stories to reveal larger ethical problems in the industry, Elliott offers no easy answers in an effort that informs and inflames in equal measure.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
As a physician, Elliott (bioethics, U. of Minnesota) provides an insider's view of how the American health care system has been co-opted by the commercial interests of pharmaceutical companies and even ethicists hired by them. He discusses marketing scandals, clinical trial fraud, medical journals' role, the Internet's role, whistle-blower lawsuits, and professional group and government responses to them. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From a New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly writer, a darkly humorous account of the serious business of medicine
Over the past twenty-five years, the practice of medicine has been subverted by the business of medicine, sacrificing old-style doctoring to fit the values of consumer capitalism. In this lively narrative, physician and moral philosopher Carl Elliott traces for the first time the evolutionary path of this new direction in health care, revealing the dangerous underbelly of the beast that has emerged. We’re introduced to the often shifty characters who work the production line in Big Pharma: the professional guinea pigs who test-pilot new drugs; the ghostwriters who pen “scientific” articles for drug manufacturers; the PR specialists who manufacture “news” bulletins; the drug reps who will do practically anything to get their numbers up; 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 this from their pharma-funded perches.
Head-turning stories and colorful characters provide Elliott the 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? Fake science, fake news, fake research subjects, fake researchers—sometimes it seems that deception is emblematic of what American medicine has become.
About the Author
Carl Elliott is a professor at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Believer, and on Slate.com. He is the author or editor of six previous books, including Better Than Well, Prozac as a Way of Life, The Last Physician, and A Philosophical Disease. Elliott lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Table of Contents
Chapter One The Guinea Pigs
Chapter Two The Ghosts
Chapter Three The Detail Men
Chapter Four The Thought Leaders
Chapter Five The Flacks
Chapter Six The Ethicists
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