ISU Headlines

Author of ‘Overdosed America’ to give Health Conference keynote

Posted October 20, 2006

Dr. John Abramson will give the keynote presentation “The Trouble with Vioxx” from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 26 in the Idaho State University Pond Student Union Building Salmon River Suite.

Abramson is an award-winning family doctor, on the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School, and author of the book "Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine.”

Dr. John AbramsonHis lecture will be given as part of the 19th annual Idaho Conference on Health Care, which runs from Oct. 25-28 at Idaho State University. The lecture will focus on his review of studies of the blockbuster anti-arthritis drugs Vioxx and Celebrex conducted years before the recent announcement of Vioxx’s dangers.  He will comment on how the two medications, although marketed as safer than an earlier and cheaper generation of products, can actually cause more severe side effects.

Abramson’s book recounts his years of scrutinizing medical research only to find that American consumers are being drawn in by flashy drug media rather than by what is best for their health.

“What I found over the next two and a half years of ‘researching the research’ is a scandal in medical science that is at least the equivalent of any of the recent corporate scandals that have shaken Americans’ confidence in the integrity of the corporate and financial worlds,” Abramson said.

Abramson said his research had confirmed to him that much of the “scientific evidence” on which doctors rely to guide their clinical decisions is being commercially spun, or worse.

“Many of the articles published in even the most respected medical journals seemed more like infomercials whose purpose was to promote their sponsors’ products rather than to search for the best ways to improve peoples’ health,” Abramson said.

He began his career in 1982 when he took over a fledgling family practice in Hamilton, Mass., where he served as a small town family doctor for the next 20 years.

In the mid-1990s, Abramson merged his private practice with Lahey Clinic, a large doctor-run multi-specialty group practice. Lahey Clinic showed its commitment to family medicine by setting up a Department of Family Practice for which he served as chair for seven years.

After he had been practicing for about 10 years, Abramson started teaching Harvard Medical School students in his office. As his students became comfortable with the basics of primary care, he helped them develop their skills in the “art of medicine—understanding that the person-to-person connection they were making with their patients was not just a pleasant amenity but an integral part of good medical care.

He also taught a course for several years at Harvard Medical School with Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute exploring the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in the healing process.

As the 1990s progressed, Abramson became aware that patient care was increasingly being compromised by the growing waste and commercialism in American medicine. He found that the clinical studies presented in even the most respected medical journals were often biased by drug and medical device company sponsorship, and that the medical information available to even the most dedicated doctors often differed from what the scientific evidence really showed about the best way to take care of their patients.

In 2002, Abramson left practice to devote himself full time to researching and writing “Overdosed America,” with the goal of helping patients and doctors to reclaim the basic mission of medicine, optimizing health most effectively and efficiently.

For more information on the Idaho Conference on Health Care, call (208) 282-3155 or visit the Idaho Conference on Health Care Web site at www.isu.edu/kchp/hlthconf.