In the current issue of Vanity Fair, with Johnny Depp on the cover, investigative journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele take on a scandal one doesn't expect among the Conde Nast magazine's usual Hollywood profiles and tales of hedge-fund managers' profligacy. In their article, "Deadly Medicine," the two explore the world of outsourcing drug safety and efficacy testing overseas, and ask the crucial question of what the increasingly common practice is doing to the quality and safety of American prescription drugs. The article is a scathing indictment of the pharmaceutical industry practice, which has seen overseas drug testing skyrocket from 271 trials in 1990 to 6,485 in 2008 according to the authors. It comes on the heals of a recent lawsuit over "potential fraud and scientific misconduct" allegedly committed during trials of a much-anticipated new insulin inhaler tested by the American biotech firm, Mannkind, in Russia and Bulgaria. Reading the in-depth investigation feels like looking at the tip of the iceberg.

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About the Author

Woodson Merrell

Woodson Merrell, M.D., is an integrative physician based in Manhattan.

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