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Bitter Pills


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About the Author

Stephen Fried is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia (the inspiration for the Emmy-winning film Gia), Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West--One Meal at a Time (a New York Times bestseller featured in the PBS documentary The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound), Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs, The New Rabbi, and the essay collection Husbandry. He is also co-author, with Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction. A two-time winner of the National Magazine Award, Fried has written frequently for Vanity Fair, GQ, The Washington Post Magazine, Rolling Stone, Glamour, and Philadelphia magazine. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, author Diane Ayres.


Five years ago, Fried's wife, after taking an antibiotic for a minor urinary tract infection, developed such side effects as delirium, visual distortions and insomnia, followed by a debilitating manic-depressive illness that the prescription drug apparently triggered. This report on the often lethal hazards of over-the-counter and prescription medications intertwines Fried's personal story of coping with his wife's condition and an informal, scattershot probe into the drug development and approval process, based on interviews with doctors, FDA officials, consumer advocates, neuroscientists, pharmaceutical executives and sales reps, lawyers and pharmacologists. By turns tedious and revealing, his labyrinthine investigation is sprinkled with useful suggestions for revamping U.S. drug testing and regulatory procedures. Freelance writer Fried includes cases involving adverse reactions to heart medicines, anti-inflammatory and psychiatric drugs, skin creams, anti-asthmatics and AIDS medications. He highlights the laxity of safety standards regarding the prescribing of drugs for children and pregnant women. An appendix offers guidelines for consumers on assessing potential drug dangers, and dealing with doctors and pharmacists. (Apr.)


" [Bitter Pills] could save your life."--San Diego Union-Tribune "The best popular book I've read on the subject."--The New York Times Book Review "Chilling...fascinating...poignant."--Newsday "If you have concerns about drugs your family members have been prescribed or are taking over the counter, Bitter Pills will help make you a more informed consumer."--Rocky Mountain News "One of the year's best books...startling...sobering."--Philadelphia Inquirer "Absorbing...insightful...fascinating and often frightening." --Kirkus Reviews

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