Book Review: Our Daily Meds

August 17, 2011

Had I been grading Our Daily Meds  as a graduate thesis, the best evaluation that Melody Petersen could have hoped for would have been a C.

by Nancy Banks MD, MBA

Like so many of today’s  investigative journalists, Melody lacks both a sense of history and an inability to synthesize her material in a way that would help solve the problems on which she spends so many pages expounding.  Had she had either, she might have turned this litany of pharmaceutical tragedies into a first rate expose that genuinely contributed to ending the pharmaceutical horror show.  She never even raises the issue as to how this industry has been able to amass so much power and to literally get away with murder: And because her lack of understanding of how powerful forces in the society operate outside of the rule of law, her book is at best, insipid. 

Writing during the 1940s, Dr. Emmanuel Josephon was already exposing the drug cartels, their marketing strategies and their willingness to sell products that were harmful and deadly.  So today’s medical fraud in all of its various disguises is hardly a new phenomenon.  Ms. Peterson seems to have no idea of the history of U.S. medicine, especially how it has developed since the publishing of the Flexner Report on Medical Education, which was authorized under the aegis of the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations.  She displays a lack of knowledge about how the quack Morris Fishbein ran the AMA and JAMA like a mini-tyrant for almost 30 years, working hand in glove with the drug cartels to promote their nostrums while suppressing information about any other type of therapy, including preventive care.

Hounding doctors and scientists of integrity out of their careers is nothing new.  Destroying the careers of people who are actually effecting cures without Pharma products is simply de rigueur.  

Had Peterson the remotest understanding of the ideas of the Austrian philosopher, Ivan Illich – which he so cogently expressed in his 1975 book, Medical Nemesis, Limits to Medicine – she might have understood the challenges of promoting health in a society whose primary god is mammon. When your basic social philosophy of organizational structure and cohesion is so corrupted by the premise that greed is good and the winners have the most toys, no system within that framework will remain pristine.  Death by Medicine is just collateral damage–it happens. 

Last, but not least of the important background books is Lily Kay’s, The Molecular Vision of Life.  This book raises some important historical truths about modern biology and its roots in the eugenics movement. The emphasis toward focusing on molecular biology was conceived and designed at the highest levels as a means of promoting the eugenics goals of social control by human engineering. Clearly the molecular vision of life was a choice rooted deeply in the philosophical principles of parasitism. It was more of a political decision than a scientific one that supported research in this direction. That more than three-quarters of a million people die each year by the direct involvement of the medical establishment is a result of decisions cemented in place 100 years ago.  It was neither a mistake or happenstance – it was a cold calculated plan.  People who can barely plan for next week have a difficult time conceiving of intergenerational goals – but we are living with the poisoned fruits of goals sown a century ago.

Had Peterson been aware of this history her epilogue, in which she proposes some meaningless changes might have had some bite.  Instead, she leaves the reader as confused as she is about how to bring change to a system that is clearly out of control. 

To quote Sun Tzu:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

Ms. Peterson neither knows her enemies nor herself.

OUR DAILY MEDS – How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs, by Melody Petersen, 432 pp. Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux. $26. (sold at Amazon and other booksellers).

Read also the review by Janet Maslin.

Nancy Banks MD is a graduate of Hunter College and Harvard Medical School and spent twenty-five years practicing general obstetrics and gynecology.  Her book AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire: The Deadly Virus of International Greed (2010).  Her book earned a gold medal for “the most progressive health book,” by the Independent Publisher Book Awards.