Making medicines safer for all of us

Adverse drug events are now the fourth leading cause of death in hospitals.

It’s a reasonable bet they are an even greater cause of death in non-hospital settings where there is no one to monitor things going wrong and no one to intervene to save a life. In mental health, for instance, drug-induced problems are the leading cause of death — and these deaths happen in community rather than hospital settings.

There is also another drug crisis — we are failing to discover new drugs. [Read more...]

Archive for News

Press Release: Pharmageddon is here

For immediate release
Toronto, February 28, 2012. Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare in America, and the results are life-threatening.In his new book, Pharmageddon, Dr. David Healy documents a riveting and terrifying story that affects us all. Healy also has an idea for the solution…”A medical classic the day it was published.”
“Pharmageddon is a must-read for anyone in the healthcare world and anyone who plans to need healthcare in the future — in short, everyone.” — Amazon review

Dr. Healy’s new book, Pharmageddon, is the story of a tragedy. Key messages in the book include:

US life expectancy drops

Reversing the trend of the past century, life expectancy in the US has already dropped compared to other advanced countries. “We are in a world where increasingly we need protection from the latest miracle cure to ensure we do not die prematurely,” says Dr. Healy.

Lifestyle drugs dominate

The global market for pharmaceuticals is US$900 billion, but apart from cancer drugs, few new drugs target disease. The bestsellers are “lifestyle” or “risk management” drugs: antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs ($60 billion), cholesterol-lowering statins ($34 billion), blood sugar-lowering hypoglycemics ($24 billion), acid reflux drugs ($26 billion), and treatments for osteoporosis and sexual ”dysfunction.”

Drugs are approved based on incomplete data, and the human consequences are severe

Drug side effects range from discomfort through emotional problems to death. Only 1 in 7 new drugs are superior to existing ones. Not realizing this, millions take the 6 in 7 drugs that aren’t, even though they have not been properly tested for risks of harm, often with grave consequences. At least 1.5 million US hospitalizations a year and about 129,000 hospital deaths are caused by serious drug reactions. Yet, fewer than 5% of serious side effects are even reported. Adverse side effects reported by patients and doctors are discounted as “anecdotal”. As a result many are dying unnecessarily from heart attacks, suicide, homicide and strokes.

The financial burden of drug effects is enormous

Health care costs are running dangerously high — close to 20% of US GDP — threatening to derail both the US and the global economy. Drugs are one of the biggest drivers of these costs, directly accounting for up to 20% of health insurers’ costs. The direct costs of treating adverse drug events are estimated to be US $5 billion per year, with US $100 billion in indirect costs. Adverse drug events are currently the fourth leading cause of death in the US and Europe and the leading cause of death within the mental health domain. “This is where any ideas of universal health care will founder,” says Dr. Healy.

Stockholm syndrome: Doctors are being held captive by drug companies

How did the drug companies capture our doctors and medical care? Dr. Healy draws back the curtain to expose the secrets that enable them to circumvent protections, such as controlled trials, evidence-based medicine, and regulatory approvals. He reveals the role of medical ghostwriters in supporting “off-label” prescribing and criticizes organized medicine for failing patients. Dr. Healy also demonstrates how statistics are manipulated to hide unwanted outcomes and inconvenient deaths.

What can be done?

Dr. Healy looks at the larger issues that have shaped the current sickness infecting health care and how we might come to grips with and treat this severe disorder.

What he also offers is a solution —, the first free website (not sponsored by big pharma or advertising) for patients and their doctors to research, and more importantly, easily report drug side effects. The website will also offer patients a medical timeline chart that captures essential information on their symptoms that will enable them to have a more informed discussion with their doctors about the prescription drugs they are taking and their possible consequences.

Dr. Healy will be in North America March 4-24 (New York, Toronto, Los Angeles), lecturing at medical schools, and promoting Pharmageddon and


Dr. David Healy studied medicine in Dublin and Cambridge England. Currently a Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales, he is the author of 16 books, including The Antidepressant Era, The Creation of Psychopharmacology, The Psychopharmacologists Volumes 1-3, and Let Them Eat Prozac.

Dr. Healy is a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Data Based Medicine Limited, which operates through its website,, dedicated to “making medicines safer for all of us” through online direct-patient reporting of drug effects. He also publishes through his blog and on Twitter @DrDavidHealy.


University of California Press


Please contact us if you would like a copy of PHARMAGEDDON for review purposes, or if you would like to schedule an interview with Dr. Healy.

(646) 875-8931


4-24 March 2012: North American visit

Lectures and promotion for Pharmageddon and

My speaking calendar is as follows (more details to come).

Date Time City   Location   Details
5 March 12-1pm Boston   Tufts University (Farnsworth 250 Conference Room)   The Changing Face of Psychosis
8 March 9:30-10:30am 12-1pm New Jersey   Rutgers (First Floor Conference Room, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research Building, 112 Paterson St., New Brunswick)   The Changing Face of Psychosis: Implications for Treatment The Eclipse of Medical Care
9 March 6-9pm New York   City University of New York (365 Fifth Ave, The Graduate Center, Room 6304.01)   The Psychology of Drugs and Risk
12 March 4-6pm Toronto   University of Toronto
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy (Fitzgerald Building, 150 College St, Room 103)
  The Eclipse of Medical Care
14 March 3:45-5pm Hamilton   University of McMaster  (Room HSC-4E20)   The Eclipse of Medical Care
19 March 12-1pm San Francisco   Commonwealth Club (595 Market Street, Second Floor)   The Eclipse of Medical Care
20 March 2-4pm Los Angeles   Harbor UCLA   Hearts & Minds – Pregnancy and Antidepressants
20 March 8pm and 11pm (ET) TV appearance   TV Ontario   The Agenda with Steve Paiken
22 March 12-1pm Los Angeles   VA Hospital   The Changing Face of Psychosis
23 March 12-2pm Los Angeles   Providence Tarzana Medical Center (LA)   The Psychology of Drugs and Risk

23-30 January 2012: Toronto

Interviews, meetings, and pre-planning for the launch of my latest book, Pharmageddon.

Have had some enquiries about where I might be speaking. Stay tuned for my March schedule — am back in Toronto, and some other North American cities, and will post another blog with details as I get them.