Episode

8/23 Big Pharma’s Assault On Healthcare w/ Dr. John Abramson

August 23, 2022

Emma hosts Dr. John Abramson, lecturer of health care policy at Harvard University, to discuss his recent book Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Healthcare and How We Can Repair It.  First, Emma walks through Donald Trump’s opening up of a lawsuit against the US Government, ICE officials’ requirement to wipe phones upon leaving, and updates for today’s primaries in Oklahoma, New York, and Florida. Then, Dr. John Abramson joins as he gets right into contextualizing his recent book within his greater work over these last few decades, walking back to his research in the late 1990s – while a family doctor and visiting lecturer at Harvard – that lead him to discover the overwhelming sway that Big Pharma held over determining what the medical community consensus was, particularly around the implementation of more expensive prescriptions. Next, he gets right into the role of pharmaceutical company Merck’s drug “Vioxx,” in his research; advertised as an arthritis drug without adverse GI bleeds, Vioxx was approved in 1999 with a particularly influential spread in the New England Journal of Medicine, only for Abramson to dive into the proper FDA data (incredibly difficult to actually get one’s hands on) and find that Merck had seen (consciously) a doubled risk of Cardiovascular complications. This brings Dr. Abramson to the climax that lead to his first book, Overdosed America, which was his lectures to Harvard Medical students on how and WHY there was this disconnect between Merck and NEJM, with the journal only provided with the peer-reviewed SUMMARY of data (8/13 peers were Merck employees), only to be confronted by lead editors of the Journal attempting to pressure him OUT of revealing this research – not because he hoped to correct it, but because it upset him that Harvard students were questioning his work. Wrapping up, Dr. John Abramson first dives into other forms of Big Pharma control over the US medical industry, looking at how cost-effectiveness studies and price-control are considered illegal allowing for Big Pharma to promote more-expensive less-effective pharmaceuticals, even with high-profile drugs such as insulin, all providing incredible price-gouging abilities for the industry, and the sway over medical journals that helps them back it up.

And in the Fun Half: Emma and the crew take on Donald Trump Jr.’s coked-up defense of his father, Brennan from Kentucky dives into the massive ecological disasters caused by the bourbon industry in the region, and watch DeSantis’ “Top Gun” parody.  They take on the legacy of Stanley Kubrick before Benny Boy from Iowa provides background on today’s interview, Tucker Carlson and Newsmax reflect on the life and legacy of Anthony Fauci, and then watch a haunting school-board meeting on CRT and the livelihoods of queer students. Ron Johnson talks about how safe gay marriage is (soo safe, nothing like abortion), and Tony from Fort Worth dives deep into the legendary depth of the Mean Girls cast, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out John’s book here: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/sickening-john-abramson?variant=39935390089250

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