French doctors blast drug companies

Sept. 15, 2012 at 2:52 PM
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PARIS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Two French doctors contend in a new book that half of all drugs prescribed in the country are useless at best and dangerous at worst.

Professor Philippe Even, director of the Necker Institute, and Bernard Debre, a physician and member of Parliament, maintain the French health service could save as much as 10 billion euros ($13 billion) annually if dozens of drugs were no longer prescribed, The Guardian reports. In their book -- "The Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines" -- the doctors say ending the use of those drugs would prevent as many as 20,000 deaths and 100,000 hospital admissions each year, the British newspaper reported.

Even and Debre say statins, widely used to lower cholesterol, are "completely useless." They listed 58 drugs as dangerous, including anti-inflammatory medications and drugs used for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction, The Guardian said.

"The pharmaceutical industry is the most lucrative, the most cynical and the least ethical of all the industries," Even told The Guardian. "It is like an octopus with tentacles that has infiltrated all the decision-making bodies, world health organizations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession.

"It has done this with the connivance, and occasionally the corruption of the medical profession. I am not just talking about medicines but the whole of medicine. It is the pharmaceutical industry that now outlines the entire medical landscape in our country."

The Professional Federation of Medical Industrialists said in a statement the authors' views are full of "confusions and approximations" and the book alarms sick people "needlessly" and "risks leading them to stop treatments."

"It is dangerous and irresponsible ... hundreds of their examples are neither precise nor properly documented," federation President Christian Lajoux said. "We must not forget that the state exercises strict controls on drugs. France has specialist agencies responsible for the health of patients and of controlling what information is given to them."

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