Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Bad Pharma - procurement book review

I suspect that Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Pharma' would not immediately come to mind as a recommended procurement read. Let me correct that misconception. While the book is primarily about the pharmaceutical industry, it has a sub-plot of market manipulation of buyers. It highlights how sales-forces, conferences, professional bodies, advertisements, magazine articles, and even academic journals are used to manipulate, within strategic marketing plans, to deliver sales. It is a book which should be read by every procurement manager, regardless of industry - all those who touch the edge of procurement decision making need a healthy level of scepticism, if we are to deliver the best deal. If you are in doubt about its relevance, then I would ask you: 'how have you have formed opinions about the percentage savings anticipated, the basis for selecting some procurement solutions, and the judgements on perceived 'best practice?'

However, the book, like Goldacre's earlier 'Bad Science', should also be on the reading list of anyone undertaking research or involved in the peer review process. I have no doubt that rigour, reliability and validity in research would be improved. A good thing all round.

On the downside
I think it may take you some time to have the same level of confidence in the medical advice you receive and read about (NB Goldacre is actually a GP!). Is that a good thing? Yes, as ultimately public money will not be wasted and, you and your loved ones may avoid inappropriate or even detrimental remedies. Snake-oil salesmen do not appear to a thing relegated to the past

Almost as the book is closing there is a very brief discussion on how the book is relevant to GP Commissioning - yes, there is a greater justification of the need for specialist procurement involvement, expertise and nous.

So, with Christmas round the corner, 448 pages of reading and plenty of reduced book prices at the present, this is something worth spending a few extra minutes thumbing through, in sight of your loved ones, in your local bookshop.

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