A voice of reason in the tornadic health care debate

Cover of "The Truth About the Drug Compan...

Cover via Amazon

Marcia Angell, M.D. (’60)

Few would argue that medicine is in turmoil today. At best, it is in flux. The passage and concomitant discussion of health care reform, subsequent legal challenges and the anecdotal experiences of millions of Americans have influenced the debate that often has turned rancorous.

In the midst of this health care tornado, one sane voice has often risen above the rest. Marcia Angell, M.D., who graduated from Madison College in 1960, has lifted the discussion above partisan bickering into the realms of fact, ethics and common sense. A frequent contributor to multiple prestigious news outlets, Dr. Angell has been and continues to be a voice of reason.

For this credential alone, we might add her to our website as a member of our Be the Change group. But Dr. Angell’s entire career qualifies her abundantly, thus she is our newest face for Be the Change.

Throughout a lifetime in medicine that began when she entered Boston University School of Medicine, the doctor has challenged the status quo, both as an expert in medical ethics and as a woman.

In 1988, after almost a decade on the editorial staff of the New England Journal of Medicine, she became executive editor. In 1999, she took the helm as editor-in-chief — the first woman to hold the prestigious position. She is a champion of medical ethics and has advocated change on numerous fronts, including challenging pharmaceutical companies as well as governmental agencies. This, in part, led Time magazine to name her one of the nation’s most influential people in 1997.

Of Angell, Time wrote:

It pays to listen to Dr. Marcia Angell. In 1992, as the Food and Drug Administration began banning silicone breast implants, Angell, the executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, argued that it wouldn’t have hurt to withhold judgment a little longer, certainly until comprehensive studies on their danger were completed. Besides, the implants had been on the market more than 30 years and had been placed in more than 1 million women.

The FDA did not wait. It enacted its ban, and as a result, thousands of women panicked, leading to a haggle of personal-injury lawsuits. By 1994, however, a series of scientific studies began showing no long-term side effects. Based on those studies, a ruling by a federal judge last year said that plaintiffs’ attorneys in a class action could not introduce evidence or testimony that said implants cause disease. Angell’s 1996 book about the implant controversy, Science on Trial, became an instant classic on junk science.

Angell is a board-certified pathologist who trained in both internal medicine and anatomic pathology. According to her bio:

Dr. Angell writes frequently in professional journals and the popular media on a wide range of topics, particularly medical ethics, health policy, the nature of medical evidence, the interface of medicine and the law, care at the end of life, and the relations between industry and academic medicine….. Her most recent book is The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, published in August, 2004, by Random House. In addition, Dr. Angell is co-author, with Dr. Stanley Robbins and, later, Dr. Vinay Kumar, of the first three editions of the textbook, Basic Pathology. She also has written chapters in several books dealing with ethical issues.*

Today, Dr. Angell is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and in that capacity delivers her brand of ethical and thoughtful medicine to a new generation of physicians and health care providers.

You can read Dr. Angell’s profile on our Be the Change website. Here’s the link: http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/people/angellMarcia.shtml

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986206-15,00.html#ixzz1ICOn1r63



About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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