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THE LEGAL DRUGS DON’T WORK
That is the conclusion offered by Ben Goldacre in Bad Pharma. It is just one more reason to re-examine the illogic of the War On Drugs...
The Hog, 23 Oct 2012
Twist it whatever way you wish but from here it makes a case for abandoning the “war on drugs” and making drugs available in a controlled, standardised and regulated system. The case for doing so has been made in recent months by a succession of Latin American political leaders. Now, and not for the first time, they have been joined by American film director Oliver Stone.
Stone doesn’t mind annoying people. That’s good. No saint he, which may well mean he can be trusted more than most. Another irony…
Stone’s latest movie Savages addresses what’s been called the narco cartel war in Mexico. This is just one theatre in the global “War on Drugs”. Alone, it has cost over 50,000 lives. The campaign against it has cost billions of dollars. Despite this expenditure of lives and money it has been an abysmal failure. Even the Mexican President agrees. It seems that nobody can take the next logical step…
That’s because there’s another drugs trade that also sucks in trillions of dollars. The difference is… it’s legal. I’m not talking about the prescription drugs that are routinely sold on the street alongside illegal drugs, significant as that trade might be. No, I’m talking about Big Pharma and the shocking case made by the highly respected British science writer Ben Goldacre in his latest book Bad Pharma that very many of the trials which sustain claims of their effectiveness are completely unreliable.
If you present at a doctor’s clinic with a condition or illness, she or he will look at your symptoms and (probably after some discussion) prescribe a drug to treat you. In so doing, the doctor is relying on reports reports of trials and findings that show that the drug works.
The trouble is, as Goldacre puts it, many of the drugs are “tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments…”