How Big Pharma Corrupts Medical Knowledge

Dr. John Abramson

Research corrupted by pharmaceutical company interests influences how medical professionals treat patients. What you must know and what you can do.


In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

… you’ll learn about the harm of Big Pharma and the reasons why pharmaceutical drugs are becoming much more widely used than science or good health care justifies.

Corporate interests and public good in America are often at battle, and the world of medical research and care is no different. Dr. John Abramson joins the show to explain what that means for your health and what you can do about it.

Dr. Abramson is an expert on health care policy, inside and out.

He’s taught at Harvard Medical School for 20 years and spent more than 20 years as a family physician. He’s researched, written about, and had unique access to the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry for decades. He’s served as an unpaid consultant to the FBI and Department of Justice, and as an expert in national drug litigation.

He’s also written a new book, “Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It.” He joins the show to talk about how big pharma controls research, withholds data and shapes information that medical professionals rely on to make important care decisions.


“The job of the pharmaceutical companies is to make as much money as they can for their investors, and we can never forget that.”

Dr. John Abramson

Although Americans spend more on healthcare than other wealthy nations, overall health continues to decline. Prescription drugs continue to be a first choice, instead of optional lifestyle interventions that could better manage health conditions.

In just one example: “Statins are now the most frequently prescribed class of drugs to lower cholesterol, and we can talk about the limited benefit they have for healthy people,” Dr. Abramson says. “But what you don’t see is there’s never been a study that compared statin therapy to lifestyle intervention for people at risk of heart disease. Never been done.”

He shares the stories behind four of the biggest failures in the pharmaceutical world that include deception, illegal practices, exploitation and lies. He’ll discuss how the job of pharmaceutical companiesno matter how effective a project may beis to make a profit. It’s important to never forget that, Dr. Abramson says.

“[Drug companies] pay for 86% of clinical research,” he explains. “They choose what to research, which is how to make new drugs that are going to maximize their profits, so they can maximize the return, the financial return of their investors. They design the studies to show that the drugs are effective and safe.”

Dr. Abramson offers ways you can put your trust back in science and take your health into your own hands in a world of corporate giants. Opening scientific data for independent analysis is a good start. This episode offers information so you’re aware and you can make better decisions for yourself.

Enjoy the show!

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  • Research has been taken over by the drug companies. They pay for 86% of clinical research. They choose what to research, which is how to make new drugs that are going to maximize their profits. – 5:32
  • What do you think about how the drug companies have behaved during the pandemic?  – 9:52
  • When I was an expert in litigation, I was like a homicide detective. – 19:57
  • There’s a difference between statistical significance, which allows them to make the claim Trulicity reduces cardiovascular disease, that’s statistical, on a statistical basis, but on a clinical basis, it’s a very minimal benefit.26:57
  • They decided that corporations are the same as humans and have the same rights as humans. And that’s what gave rise to the free speech for companies to allow them to market their drugs.  – 30:32
  • Look at Oxycontin and the Sackler’s, don’t think they’re facing jail time, they’re arguing about having declared bankruptcy and keeping, I don’t know, a handful of billions of dollars.  – 33:53
  • How do we put trust back in science? What would your top recommendation be to fix this problem? I know it’s part of the book, part of your new book.  – 34:57
  • The key here, which I think is near and dear to your heart than all these statistics, is that all the money that we’re wasting on these expensive insulins, $20 billion a year, $23 billion a year. – 39:34
  • The problem is that the drug companies have total control of the commercialization of medical science. Total control. And there’s no other regulatory body or organization or mechanism for prying loose the parts of medical science that aren’t going to maximize the drug company profits, but that would maximize our health.  – 42:45
  • The healthy life expectancy of Americans ranked 38th in the world in 2000, and since we’ve been spending the 7% more of our GDP on healthcare, our ranking in the world has gone from 38th to 68th.  – 46:08
  • There’s another dimension to it, one is show me the data, the other is what we’re studying. So 96% of what we study is new drugs and devices because that’s where the money is, and about 2% is preventive medicine.  – 49:38
  • The litigation was that the jury found that Pfizer had committed fraud and racketeering in its off-label marketing of Neurontin, and the jury fined Pfizer $42 million, and that got tripled because of the racketeering charge. It was the first time a drug company had been found guilty of racketeering.  – 56:21
  • 1300 people a day would not be dying if our health and healthcare were the equivalent of the other wealthy countries because our healthcare is inferior to other countries. We’re losing that many people. – 1:03:26
  • You say that there’s three steps that we have to put in place to fix this. Can you walk through those three real succinctly?  – 1:06:06

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