The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg: Accutane – the truth that had to be told

Doug Bremner’s book that details his fight against the pharma giant Roche is now available for purchase. Below is a review of the book that he shared for publication here at Beyond Meds. I read this book a couple of years ago when he posted it sentence by sentence on twitter. I waited daily while he was tweeting it in suspense for the days reading. It was really quite a fun way to read the book, though I imagine it will be more rewarding to have it in book form!

Doug Bremner MD is also author of the blog Before You Take That Pill and the book by the same name: Before You Take that Pill: Why the Drug Industry May Be Bad for Your Health.

The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg

By Susan Marie Kovalinsky

An indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg illuminates the greed and unscrupulous nature of pharmaceutical companies and their market driven interests.

Bremner’s text is a personal narrative and social polemic, both. Finely written, his personal quest to honor his late mother who had died when he was a child is interwoven with his fight as an ethical psychiatrist to expose the dangers which lie hidden in prescription drugs.

Bremner writes the story of his beginnings at Yale Department of Psychiatry , a place of conflict and ruthlessness, frightening in itself to read of. One would expert more from this institute of higher learning and its pursuit of psychiatric public health information. It is this inauspicious beginning which will ultimately lead to an investigation spearheaded by Hoffman-La Roche Pharmaceutical against Bremner.

In an attempt to discredit Dr. Bremner for a study he conducted which found a causal relationship between the acne drug Acutane and brain changes causing depressive and suicidal behavior in teens, this preemptive strike against the doctor and his research is a microcosm of the onslaught of society waged by the aggressive big business of Pharmacology.

Early in the book, we become enlightened: Told by FDA that they trusted drug companies to do their own research, Dr. Bremner asks if this is wise. He tells us that the drug industry obtained legislation, passed by Congress, requiring that the drug companies pay the salaries of FDA employees.

Chilling in its implication, and unsavory in its details, early in this unwinding David and Goliath saga, we sense in Bremner the type of the hero, who is willing to kick against the goads for the ideals of truth and public safety.

Interwoven throughout this social account is Bremner’s personal and spiritual quest involving his dead mother, and his prose reveals a true writer, with its highly perceptive observations of his early childhood and his surroundings:

I remembered the wind blowing through the leaves of the madrona tree at our house on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. The peeling red bark. Sitting on the beach with a playmate, putting sand in a bottle and eating it. Dancing with my teddy bear to the song, ‘I wanna Hold your Hand’. . . my mother limping around the house, carrying me on her hip….

I highly recommend this text for anyone who wants to read a compelling and spell-binding narrative which fuses the personal and social in a heroic quest conducted by a physician who is a model for our era. Bremner fights and wins – Acutane has since been withdrawn from the market – and the truths he uncovers are personal and political. In this sense “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” is an American story, with the ending we hope for: The victory of the hero we have been rooting for throughout the book’s chapters.

Purchase the book here: The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg 

See the original review here.

Follow Susan Marie Kovalinsky on twitter @smkovalinsky or her blog here.

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