Angell, Marcia 1939-

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Angell, Marcia 1939-

PERSONAL: Born April 20, 1939, in Knoxville, TN. Education: James Madison University, B.S., 1960; Boston University, M.D., 1967.

ADDRESSES: Office—Harvard Medical School, Department of Social Medicine, 641 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, MA, editor, 1979-88, executive editor, 1988-99, editor-in-chief, 1999-2000; Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, senior lecturer on social medicine, 2000-. Former resident in pathology, New England Deaconess Hospital; former resident in internal medicine, University Hospital; former resident in pathology and internal medicine, Mt. Auburn Hospital. Writer.

MEMBER: American College of Physicians, Institute of Medicine, Association of American Physicians, National Academy of the Sciences, Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society, Massachusetts Medical Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: Named one of twenty-five most influential Americans, Time magazine, 1997.



(With Stanley L. Robbins) Basic Pathology, W. B. Saunders (Philadelphia, PA), 1971, 3rd edition, also with Vinay Kumar, 1981.

Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1996.

The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do about It, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to medical textbooks and scientific periodicals, including New England Journal of Medicine.

SIDELIGHTS: Marcia Angell was named one of Time magazine's "twenty-five most influential Americans" in 1997. At that time she held a prestigious position with the New England Journal of Medicine and had published Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case. Since then Angell has continued to exert influence on the American public and the scientific community through her work on medical ethics and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. Angell is, to quote a contributor to Women's Health Activist, "a well-known commentator on the state of modern medicine." New Republic critic David J. Rothman called her "a powerful and fervent voice for ethics in medical and pharmaceutical research."

After training as a physician with specialties in pathology and internal medicine, Angell joined the staff of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1979. The journal has a wide circulation within the scientific and medical practitioner fields, giving Angell a significant position in the dissemination of ground-breaking medical research. In her own essays for the periodical, Angell explored medical ethics, the relationship between medical research and trial law, end-of-life issues, pain management, and government policies on health care, to cover only a few topics. After assuming the editor-in-chief position at the periodical in 1999, she stepped down in 2000 and joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where she lectures on social and ethical aspects of modern medicine and medical research.

Angell's book Science on Trial grew out of her dismay over the class-action lawsuits brought by breast-implant recipients against the creator of breast implants, Dow Corning, Inc. Having done research on the safety of the implants herself—and having found no evidence that the implants caused some of the systemic illnesses that their recipients reported—Angell found herself at odds with a legal system that uses anecdotal evidence and tutored "expert witnesses" to assure monetary settlements to a great number of women.

Some reviewers of Science on Trial revealed personal biases when confronting Angell's work. For example, in an essay for the Michigan Law Review, Rochelle Cooper Dreyfuss wrote that Angell's "suggestions are of breathtaking dimensions" and accused the author of being "tone-deaf." James E. Rooks, Jr., in Trial magazine stated: "Science on Trial is nearly totally one-sided…. Angell has studiously ignored much of the evidence, basing many observations on 'tort reform' jeremiads and media reports."

Conversely, many reviewers from the scientific and journalistic community found favor with Angell's conclusion that the vast number of lawsuits against breast-implant makers both frightened many women unjustifiably and dampened enthusiasm for scientific research on other useful prosthetic and internal devices. "Angell writes with quiet authority on the medical issues, detailing the lawyers' retreat 'bunker by bunker' to claims quite different from those they made at first," wrote Walter Olson in the National Review. In Science, Annetine C. Gelijns and Alan J. Moskowitz called Science on Trial "lucidly written and fascinating" and stated that the title "provides a penetrating cultural commentary on the limitations of science in American society." Independent Review critic Elisabeth Ryzen deemed the title "concise" and "insightful," commending it as "worthwhile reading for anyone interested in tort law, FDA regulation, and the antiscience movement."

In 2004 Angell released The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do about It. The book offers evidence from many fronts to detail how the pharmaceutical industry has reaped record profits at the expense of American consumers. Angell demonstrates that the pharmaceutical companies spend far less on research and development of new medicines than they do on marketing, "educating" doctors through attractive incentive plans, and producing "me-too" medications that differ only slightly from generic or older generation products. The author especially condemns direct-to-consumer advertising, suggesting that the pharmaceutical companies have created chronic illnesses such as erectile dysfunction and social anxiety disorder, simply in order to sell drugs.

In a New Republic review of the The Truth about the Drug Companies, Rothman noted: "Angell ably takes us through the territory in clean and clear prose. Written for a lay audience, her book carefully explains every term and concept…. It is not a pretty story, and she tells it well." Shannon Brownlee declared in Mother Jones that the book is "enough to make anybody think twice before filling a prescription." A Publishers Weekly critic accorded The Truth about the Drug Companies a starred review, commenting that Angell "mounts a powerful case … for reform of this essential industry." A correspondent for Women's Health Activist concluded: "We can only hope that many more people will become upset, and active, after reading The Truth about the Drug Companies.



American Scientist, January-February, 2005, Arthur L. Caplan, "Indicting Big Pharma," review of The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do about It, p. 68.

Booklist, July, 1996, William Beatty, review of Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, p. 1783; August, 2004, David Siegfried, review of The Truth about the Drug Companies, p. 1883.

Clinical Psychiatry News, December, 2004, Rodrigo A. Munoz, review of The Truth about the Drug Companies, p. 73.

Independent Review, summer, 1997, Elisabeth Ryzen, review of Science on Trial, p. 150.

Michigan Law Review, May, 1997, Rochelle Cooper Dreyfuss, review of Science on Trial, pp. 2055-2076.

Mother Jones, September-October, 2004, Shannon Brownlee, "Bitter Medicine," p. 83.

National Review, November 11, 1996, Walter Olson, review of Science on Trial, p. 56.

New Republic, September 27, 2004, David J. Rothman, "Strong Medicine," review of The Truth about the Drug Companies, p. 33.

People, October 11, 2004, Diane Herbst, "A Bitter Pill?: Dr. Marcia Angell Prescribes Major Reform for Drug Companies," p. 141.

Publishers Weekly, May 27, 1996, review of Science on Trial, p. 60; August 2, 2004, review of The Truth about the Drug Companies, p. 63.

Science, August 16, 1996, Annetine C. Gelijns and Alan J. Moskowitz, review of Science on Trial, p. 917.

Time, April 21, 1997, "Time's Twenty-five Most Influential Americans," p. 40.

Trial, November, 1996, James E. Rooks, Jr., review of Science on Trial, p. 80.

Washington Monthly, October, 2004, Merrill Goozner, "Trial and Error: Why We Should Drive the Drug Industry out of the Clinical Test Business," p. 49.

Women's Health Activist, January-February, 2005, review of The Truth about the Drug Companies, p. 6.


Harvard Medical School Web site, (April 12, 2005), "Marcia Angell."

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Angell, Marcia 1939-

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