Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
When what should have been standard health care has been replaced by marketized Big Pharms and their sponsored drug trials, both doctors and patients are losing their dignity and sanity, while insurance companies and drug companies make money. Sponsorship perverts science. Advertisement perverts health.
When Prozac was introduced in 1987, taking psychiatric medication was a fringe phenomenon. Twenty-five years later, 10 percent of Americans over the age of six use an SSRI antidepressant. Sharpe and her peers constitute the first generation to have literally grown up taking psychiatric drugs.
Coming of Age on Zoloft is an absorbing read in the tradition of Kay Redfield Jamison, but freshened and made urgent by its exploration of what it means to develop an adult identity while under drug treatment. This is an important book.” —Wired science correspondent David Dobbs, author of Reef Madness and #1 Kindle Single bestseller My Mother’s Lover
an era of biomedical predominance that defines the syndrome first and foremost as a chemical imbalance.Lisa Shea, Elle
the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising by drug companies on the demand for antidepressants and the role of health insurance in determining patients’ access to therapy modalities. Balanced and informative—an education for any parent considering psychiatric medication for a troubled adolescent.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, some of whom came to depend on the income, earning their living by continuously taking part in these trials. Drawing on ethnographic research among self-identified “professional guinea pigs” in Philadelphia, Roberto Abadie examines their experiences and views on the conduct of the trials and the risks they assume by participating. Some of the research subjects he met had taken part in more than eighty Phase I trials. While the professional guinea pigs tended to believe that most clinical trials pose only a moderate health risk, Abadie contends that the hazards presented by continuous participation, such as exposure to potentially dangerous drug interactions, are discounted or ignored by research subjects in need of money. The risks to professional guinea pigs are also disregarded by the pharmaceutical industry, which has become dependent on the routine participation of experienced research subjects. Arguing that financial incentives compromise the ethical imperative for informed consent to be freely given by clinical-trials subjects, Abadie confirms the need to reform policies regulating the participation of paid subjects in Phase I clinical trials.
Today, more than 75 percent of pharmaceutical drug trials in the United States are being conducted in the private sector. Once the sole province of academic researchers, these important studies are now being outsourced to non-academic physicians.
According to Jill A. Fisher, this major change in the way medical research is performed is the outcome of two problems in U.S. health care: decreasing revenue for physicians and decreasing access to treatment for patients. As physicians report diminishing income due to restrictive relationships with insurers, increasing malpractice insurance premiums, and inflated overhead costs to operate private practices, they are attracted to pharmaceutical contract research for its lucrative return. Clinical trials also provide limited medical access to individuals who have no or inadequate health insurance because they offer “free” doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, and medications to participants. Focusing on the professional roles of those involved, as well as key research practices, Fisher assesses the risks and advantages for physicians and patients alike when pharmaceutical drug studies are used as an alternative to standard medical care.