Marcia Angell: The Tom Cruise of Health Care Policy

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  • 12/11/2006
We all know Tom Cruise "jumped the shark" when he jumped Oprah's couch in a demonstration of his love for Katie Holmes and started his one person tour disgrace against psychiatry. So now Tom is known for one note, unscientific attack on psychopharmacology and his effort to resurrect his career appears be Mission Impossible

Now meet Marcia Angell, the Tom Cruise of Health Care Policy. Ms. Angell's career had clearly jumped the shark with the publication of a poorly written and scientifically indefensible book "The Truth About Drug Companies" which had one main point: most drugs developed by pharmaceutical firms are just copycats that have no real clinical value to patients and those that do were developed by the government or academics without any biotech or pharmaceutical company input.

Now in the face of mechanistic evidence that different drugs in a therapeutic not only provide clinical benefit to different groups of people based on genetic variation but will be the foundation of drug development in the future, Angell persists in pushing her outdated and dangerous message. Thus, her uncomfortably silly letter in the New York Times this weekend.

To the Editor:

You refer to ''me too'' drugs as offering ''a merely incremental advance over some existing therapy,'' but there is no reason to think that they offer any advance at all.
In the clinical trials required for approval by the Food and Drug Administration, manufacturers do not have to compare ''me too'' drugs with old drugs in the same class, only with placebos.
For all we know, then, each new ''me too'' drug may be worse than existing ones. "

Yes, Marcia that's exactly what the body of clinical evidence shows. The first medicine developed was great and all the rest are incrementally worse than the next and actually make people sicker.

Does being a pathologist mean you are pathetic?

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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