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Dispensing with the Truth: The Victims, the Drug Companies, and the Dramatic Story Behind the Battle Over Fen-Phen (Englisch) Taschenbuch – August 2002

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Mary Linnen, 29, was determined to lose 25 pounds before her wedding. In May 1996, her doctor prescribed a combination of drugs known as Fen-Phen. When Linnen complained of dizziness and shortness of breath 23 days after starting the medications, her doctor told her to stop the drugs--but didn't examine her or order tests. Linnen got better for a time, then the shortness of breath and exhaustion returned worse than ever. Her legs and stomach swelled. She collapsed at work. Six months after taking Fen-Phen, Linnen was admitted to the emergency room with primary pulmonary hypertension: the capillaries that sent oxygen to her lungs had thickened and were closing, suffocating her. Her survival expectation after heart surgery was less than four years. Hooked up to a tube in her chest to prevent heart failure, she died three months later.

Dispensing with the Truth: The Battle over Fen-Phen tells the story of the legal battle against the pharmaceutical companies after Fen-Phen's users started dying--some, like Linnen, of primary pulmonary hypertension; others of heart valve damage. Investigative reporter Alicia Mundy weaves a dramatic tale from the development of the drugs to FDA approval to the final litigation. How much did the pharmaceutical companies know about the risks long before most of the deaths? Plenty, according to the evidence Mundy reveals. Although at times the book seems overfilled with details that slow down the drama, if you want the complete, behind-the-scenes story of one of the most famous "profits over protection" cases, this book tells all. --Joan Price -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


"In the tradition of A Civil Action and In Cold Blood, this important and timely book reads like a riveting murder mystery . . . Alicia Mundy's book shines an overdue and informing spotlight on the immense, and not always well-used, power of national pharmaceutical corporations . . . over FDA regulators, over elected officials, and over the consuming public. Readers will leave Dispensing with the Truth's final pages armed with new insights—and heightened concerns—regarding the safety of the pharmaceuticals they consume. This is a significant and utterly engaging work of legal journalism at its best. It is also reminds us that lawyers can sometimes be heroes. And it makes me personally proud that some of the heroes in these pages are former students of mine."—Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

"[A] sad, infuriating and important tale . . . [Mundy's] mastery of the massive scandal's legal, political and regulatory issues is impressive, her documentation comprehensive. [S]he has produced an exemplary piece of reportage on an appalling and utterly needless catastrophe."—The Washington Post

"A great investigative reporter tells the story of how corporate greed and government incompetence combined to let a killer loose—and what happened when the truth closed in."—Sam Donaldson, Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News and co-anchor of This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts

"Absorbing . . . a read that will have you gritting your teeth."—Time

"The subject of this fascinating book is the first wrongful death suit brought against a diet drug, Fen-Phen, an event that Mundy sets in the context of drug companies' greed, publicity spinning, and power over the Food and Drug Administration. Mundy comprehensively and often grippingly details the plaintiffs' attorneys' search for facts, which ultimately accumulated millions of documents; their many depositions; their work on determining trial procedures; their practicing before mock courts that included 'jurors' selected to give feedback; and then the trial itself. "—William Beatty, Booklist

"[Mundy] admirably recounts the fen-phen fiasco of the late 1990s . . . [She] has crafted a compelling morality tale out of this huge medical and regulatory disaster."—Elle

"Dispensing with the Truth has Hollywood movie written all over it . . . Think Erin Brockovich or A Civil Action—a courtroom drama pitting presumably powerless human beings against greedy corporations."—Salon.com

"[A] medical thriller that profiles unsuspecting victims while indicting the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical giant Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories."—New York Daily News

"As Capitol Hill thrashes out the limits of a patient's right to sue health care providers, all involved should make Mundy's [book] a frequently consulted reference . . . [The book] chronicles, with passion and precision, the sequence of events that led to the Fen-Phen weight-loss drug disaster that left thousands of women dead or crippled by heart disease."—The National Journal

"Mundy's scorched-earth reporting and high-energy writing build a story that leave A Civil Action in the dust."—Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

"Mundy's book reads like a medical thriller . . . A readable and moving narrative."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Investigative reporting at its best . . . will keep readers on the edge of their seats."—Arizona Daily Star

"This true-to-life courtroom drama reads like an edge-of-the-seat novel. It tops A Civil Action."—Barry Reed, bestselling author of The Verdict and The Deception

"Dispensing with the Truth has a huge, gratifying asset: it is so readable a story, told with such zest and saucy verve, that once you start reading, you'll be hard-pressed to stop. Remember, I warned you!"—Jack Valenti, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association

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Amazon.com: 24 Rezensionen
16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Saucy and outrageous will leave you outraged 8. Mai 2001
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this book was the way it made me smile and laugh, in the midst of a story that is frightening and sad. Alicia Mundy is saucy, witty, and an incredible story teller. Reading "Dispensing with the Truth" will cause you to become furious with the drug companies, inspired by the heroic lawyers, and intrigued by the inner workings of the FDA. I felt great disappointment with the drug industry, but at the same time I was hopeful, as the author finds many rays of light. For example, one of the heroes in the book was a med tech in Fargo, North Dakota named Pam Ruff, who pursued a strange coincidence in the echocardiograms of her patients not because she thought she could profit, but because she thought she could help. And then there is the FDA's Leo Lutwak, who risked his reputation and his job to voice his dissent over the approval of the dangerous drugs. I strongly recommend this book if you are looking for a gift for a mother, a sister, a lawyer, or anyone who likes courtroom thrillers.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Important story, well-told 4. Dezember 2001
Von Dennis Littrell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a good read, especially in the beginning, but if you want to go beyond the courtroom drama and the legal aspects of the case, you have to read carefully. (Taking notes wouldn't hurt.) This is a complex story, and one has to admire Alicia Mundy's skill in managing it while spinning out an engaging narrative. She succeeds by concentrating on one case, that of 29-year-old Mary Linnen, an Orchard Park, New York woman, who developed primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) after using the Fen-Phen drug combination for a mere 23 days. There is no cure for PPH, and the treatments amount to something like sustained torture. Tragically, less than a year after diagnosis, Mary Linnen was dead.
Within her story, Mundy focuses on two main characters. One is the engaging and colorful Alex MacDonald, the lead attorney representing Mary Linnen's estate, who along with many others sued American Home Products, the parent company of Wyeth-Ayerst, the distributors of Pondimin and Redux (one half of the deadly Fen-Phen diet cocktail), for wrongful death; and the other is Leo Lutwak, a well-meaning but ineffectual administrator at the Food and Drug Administration. But I think the real story here is the corporate mentality inside the drug companies that led to the tragedy, and the incompetence at the FDA that allowed it. Although I think Mundy concentrates too much on the lawyers in her narrative (she indicates in the "Acknowledgments" that she was inspired by Jonathan Harr's lawyer-centered A Civil Action), she is still able to give a complete story, but it takes some real effort on the part of the reader to get it all. I had to take notes and flip back through the pages with the aid of the Index to keep Pondimin and its "sister" drug Redux separate from Phentermine, and to realize that it is the combination of Pondimin and Phentermine or the combination of Redux and Phentermine that is the deadly Fen-Phen combo. When one looks deeper it becomes apparent that Pondimin is the brand name for the drug fenfluramine and Redux for dexfenfluramine, the "Fen" in "Fen-Phen."
It's an important part of the story to realize that doctors prescribed Phentermine in combination with Pondimin because Pondimin alone led to unwanted drowsiness while Phentermine "was," as Mundy phrases it on page 39, "after all, a form of <speed>." The logic here, although not mentioned, is similar to that of the hugely successful Sudafed combination of the antihistamine Chlorpheniramine Maleate, which leads to drowsiness, and the nasal decongestant Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride, which counteracts that effect by speeding up your system.
Still, it's not clear why so people so eagerly gobbled up the Fen-Phen combo. Mundy indicates that part of the reason was a massive advertising and PR campaign spun out by the drug companies--she calls it "Obesity, Inc."--a campaign that made the never-proven claim that over 300,000 Americans, mostly women, die each year from the "disease" of obesity. The drug companies positioned themselves as wanting to save those lives. However, Mundy cites a study on page 155 showing that the long-term expected weight loss from using Fen-Phen was only about three percent above that of a placebo.
To me the most unsettling part of this story is the stupidity practiced by the FDA and by Wyeth in not realizing that Pondimin or Redux in combination with Phentermine was in its effects very similar to Aminorex, an appetite suppressant that caused a major epidemic of primary pulmonary hypertension, killing hundreds of people in Europe during the mid-1960s. (p. 38) Mundy quotes John Restaino, "a young doctor turned lawyer," as saying (p. 198), himself quoting an unidentified Swedish scientist, "When I saw the combination of Pondimin and Phentermine, Fen-Phen, I said, <My God, they've re-created Aminorex!>." (Incidentally, the lack of attribution for some of the text--there are no footnotes--is a disappointment.)
This bit of ignorance, perhaps willful, by Wyeth and the FDA was followed by a frenzy of greed when the drug companies realized the potential profits. This in turn was followed by attempts at obfuscation and cover-up, denial and feigned ignorance, when the deadly side effects became public knowledge. Ironically, it wasn't PPH that finally led to the withdrawal of the drugs, but another, also deadly side effect, that of heart valvular disease, uncovered by two Fargo, North Dakota residents, med tech Pam Ruff and cardiologist Jack Crary. To my mind, their story is the most important part of the book. Their unselfish and courageous work led to the withdrawal of the drugs and saved the lives of untold numbers of people.
Bottom line: this is an engaging read about a preventable tragedy and the triumph of litigation against a big corporation to be ranked with A Civil Action (the book, not the so-so movie) and the Erin Brockovich story.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Riveting Page-Turner 29. August 2001
Von anonymous - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book will make you furious, and it will make you think twice (or three or four times) about the drugs you take, especially ones that have only recently been approved by the FDA. Alicia Mundy tells the story very well and has you on the edge of your seat much of the time. I'm not usually much of a one for stories of victims, lawyers, drug companies, and the FDA, but I couldn't put the book down. It reads like a thriller, and the information it contains is especially vital to anyone who has ever taken Fen-Phen. Even if you would never consider taking a diet drug, you need to learn how ineffectual the FDA has become in the face of the super-powerful drug companies. The drug companies involved knew about the serious health risks associated with these drugs and made every effort not to inform doctors and drug users about the potential dangers. Worse yet, they knew that the drug didn't work. And although they were recommending it for long-term use, they had tested it only for short-term use. This book will make you angry, and given that nearly five times as many people have died from the Fen-Phen debacle as from faulty Firestone tires, we should be angry--angry enough to get Congress to put some teeth back in the FDA so that this sort of tragedy never happens again.
8 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
more compelling than A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich 8. Mai 2001
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Alicia Mundy has written a nail-biting medical thriller that engaged me from cover to cover. What makes it so disturbing is that it's not fiction--it's a true story! Drug companies knew they were releasing a dangerous drug, the FDA knew it was approving a potential killer, and yet fen-phen was still allowed on the market.
Everyone thinks fen-phen is old news, but that's because the drug companies tried to cover up the truth after women started dying after having heart complications. You must read this book if you've ever taken a prescription drug, if you've ever trusted the FDA to protect your health, and if you want to find out how giant pharmaceutical companies manipulate, harrass, and endanger the public in order to make a profit. The opening story of Mary Linnen says it all.
I couldn't believe the amount of exhaustive research Mundy conducted to write this book. It's really quite amazing. I wish more authors could write books like this one--it's fast-paced and readable, and yet it touches on a subject that affects nearly everyone out there. I highly recommend it!
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent and Eye Opening 22. März 2002
Von Andrea Kendall - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I read this book based on suggestion from someone else. I would not have picked it up on my own. But I'm glad I did. It opened my eyes to the "business" of drugs and the profit surrounding it. It shattered my naive belief that a company producing drugs and an organization created to protect my safety would always do the right thing. It also was a good teaching element for how government, business, and the legal arm work in the pharmaceutical industry. At the end I felt for the average person who innocently takes a prescribed product. This book has made me forever wary.
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