This book should be required reading for all medical/nursing/therapy students, potential clinical researchers, prospective pharmaceutical company employees, and health journalists.
I worked in medicine, allied health, and clinical research for more than 25 years, and the situation is even worse than I thought. A logical extension of Goldacre's previous book, Bad Science
, Bad Pharma
details how missing and misleading data are harming policy, physicians, and patients every day. He also offers solid (if overly optimistic) possibilities for addressing the worst of the offenses at the end of each section of the book.
The material can seem a bit overwhelming if taken in all at once. But that's the nature of the beast with health care. One easy thing each of us can do is check whether our physicians have accepted any industry money by going to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act site
once it's up and running (should be no later than Sept. 2014).
Goldacre has performed public service of the highest order with this book. Read it.
Edited to add: just for the hell of it, I just searched the clinical trials registry database (clinicaltrials.gov) for all completed Phase III intervention trials (these are the studies that can get drugs approved or rejected for marketing in the U.S.), and discovered that 60% of them have never been published. Your doctors, people writing treatment guidelines, insurance companies, and policy makers are missing more than half of the evidence needed to make good decisions. Get educated, everybody.