John Rhodes, The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. xxii, 235, $27.00, hardback, ISBN: 978-1-137-27852-4

Paul H. Mason
2015 Medical history  
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for defining each disorder. (4) The fourth section deals with the treatment of the disorder. It provides a useful table summarising the generic/brand name, typical dose in milligrammes, manufacturer and year first distributed, and some side effects of each drug. (5) The fifth and central section reviews the principal scientific evidence on the effectiveness and harmful side effects of each drug. There are detailed discussions of the latter including
more » ... exual dysfunctions and sleep disorders. Major studies, including meta-analyses, are included in the scientific review. Each fifth section features a table summarising the best research evidence available on each drug. Special attention is given to official Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings regarding the dangerousness of nine anti-depressants (for those under 25 years of age) and for eleven anti-epileptics. These anti-depressants and anti-epileptics both raised the risk of suicidality to approximately twice that of placebos. Special attention is called to the Columbia University re-analysis of 4400 individuals with depression who were subjects in RCT studies, which led to the FDA warning for anti-depressants. Fully 4.0% of those under 25 years of age on anti-depressants experienced suicidality compared to only 2% of those on placebos. Regarding the anti-epileptics, in December 2008, after a review of 199 RCT studies involving 43 892 subjects, the FDA issued warnings on all eleven antiepileptics drugs. Collectively, the 199 studies showed that 0.43% of those on the drugs developed suicidality compared to 0.22% of those on placebos. Maris presents a fair-minded review of the scientific evidence. For example, he notes that there are no FDA warnings for anti-anxiety medications. He is an advocate for the use of lithium for bipolar disorders, given that the weight of the scientific evidence shows that they reduce the odds of suicidality. It is also emphasised that the degree of dangerousness of drugs in a category varies. For example, Maris is careful to note that of the nine antidepressant drugs analysed in the Columbia study, the suicidal risk signal was driven mainly by one, Effexor. The seventh chapter deals with non-prescription drugs including alcohol, cocaine and the barbiturates, which are ones commonly used among suicidal persons. The final ch. 8 discusses many alternatives to drug therapies. Included are varieties of talk therapy such as cognitive-behavioural and dialectical behavioural treatments. The book provides substantial detail on describing mental disorders and the drugs used in their pharmacological treatment. It also provides detailed and often critical analyses of their effectiveness and dangerousness. Dr Maris is well qualified to highlight the essential points on what he calls 'pillage', and he has a passion for the topic given his extensive first-hand experience in drug litigation. However, the work does not rigorously review the analyses of aggregated data on the associations between the rate of psychotropic drug use and suicide rates in society as a whole. This body of research has rather mixed findings and may require an additional book-length critical analysis.
doi:10.1017/mdh.2015.56 fatcat:svlkuqz6wfewlfzt3bfc4bhcrm