The People's Perspective on Medicine

Does Google Favor Big Pharma and the FDA over Drug Watchdogs?

Whom do you trust to provide independent health information especially about drugs? Does Google favor Big Pharma directly or indirectly? What about the FDA?
The Graedons

Google dominates search on the Internet. “Google it” has become a common command if you want to know almost anything. Most people assume that Google serves up unbiased, objective search information. Because people rarely get past the first page of a Google search, they assume that Google is fair. But is it truly objective, or does Google favor Big Pharma and the FDA over drug watchdogs like The People’s Pharmacy?

Health Searches Skew in Favor of Pharma & the FDA:

We almost understand Google’s perspective. It wants credible drug facts. There is a lot of questionable health information on the web. Google uses a super-secret algorithm to cull through tens of millions of pages of online content.

These days it relies heavily on a couple of websites that summarize the official prescribing information sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration. These data are generated by pharmaceutical manufacturers in their effort to get FDA approval to market their medicines.

What Happened to Google?

There was a time when Google seemed to be reasonably fair in its selection process. If lots of people found a website helpful, Google rewarded that kind of traffic. It was a crowd-sourced, democratic process.

That is why the drug information here at used to routinely show up very high when people searched drug side effects. Now, Google has seemingly spurned our messages and our vision.

The People’s Pharmacy is:

“An independent watchdog dedicated to consumer health protection”

Since 1976, we have built a reputation as a trustworthy and truly independent voice for both consumers and health professionals. We stand up for the consumer by serving as a watchdog of the medical and pharmaceutical industries, including the FDA itself.

We are accountable only to you, the public, and not to any outside organization.

You can read more about us, our mission, experience and credentials at this link

Does Google Favor Big Pharma? Trust But Verify!

Please do not take our word for Google’s preferences. Perform a Google search for various drugs. What do you see?

Let us suggest a few examples. Try searching:

Gabapentin side effects

Cymbalta (duloxetine) side effects

Prednisone side effects

When we search medications we often see the following websites come up: and (you may be interested to discover who now owns these two sites)

What Do You See When You Click?

One of the first things we see when we search one of these websites is a long list of side effects. Take gabapentin, for example. Your eyes will likely glaze over very quickly after reading about dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, loss of memory, depression, dry mouth, feeling weak, changes in mood, blurred vision, etc.

When you go to and search gabapentin side effects you get something quite different. Here are just a few of the articles we have written on this widely-prescribed drug:

“Surprising Gabapentin Side Effects”

Are Doctors Overprescribing Gabapentin and Pregabalin (Lyrica) for Pain?

Gabapentin and Fuzzy Thinking: A Recognized Side Effect

Gabapentin for Pain Drove Patient to Brink of Suicide

You will learn about the boondoggle of off-label prescribing of Neurontin (gabapentin). There’s a fascinating question about using this drug for insomnia. You will find out about the $430 million Pfizer paid in penalties because of fraudulent promotion. There is a long list of side effects of course, but in addition there is a description of “Gabapentin Discontinuation Syndrome” (aka Withdrawal). There are stories from visitors to our website that make the side effects relevant to readers. There are also hundreds of comments from people who have experienced the pros and cons of gabapentin. That’s not what you will get from other websites.

You will see similar information when you go to:

Prednisone Side Effects: Deal With The Devil?

There are 1,055 comments. 491 people have rated the article 4.4 stars out of 5.

Duloxetine (Cymbalta) Side Effects & Withdrawal

There are almost 2,000 comments associated with this post.

Do You Value

Are you tired of long lists of mind-numbing side effects? Do you value the unique context that we try to provide in both our drug information and home remedy sections? Do you find our efforts as “an independent watchdog dedicated to consumer health protection” worth supporting?

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    Showing 12 comments
    Add your comment

    Google is an advertising platform not a search provider. Big Pharma is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, advertising buyer in the world. No one should be surprised when a big business helps a major customer. The only surprise is that it hadn’t happened sooner.

    I don’t use Google any more – too biased. Have been using DuckDuckGo for searching; and when it comes to medical info, I trust Peoples Pharmacy more than Webmd or some of the other sites. Too bad the mainstream doctors are not willing to consider alternative treatment. I honestly am losing respect for the mainstream medical community, whose viewpoints are narrow. Thank you, Joe and Terry, for the fine work you have done.

    I agree 500% with both Michael & Tom M’s comments. I do NOT, will NOT trust/believe Google, huge PHARMA, their huge political/ campaign donations, etc. FDA, corporations, and how they deceive the public, moreso today, than yesteryear. They hold onto their drug patents for so long so they have full control on costs, etc. I do believe the control they have in keeping the public misinformed and disclosing all harmful issues are kept from the public. Their greed, FOR hugh profits, control and ads help to get the drug to market faster for profits, hugh salaries to CEOS, shareholders and corporate.

    I trust none of them except my doctor and a dedicated Pharmacist. They are more truthful and sympathetic to the PATIENT, the CONSUMER, the TRUTH, than greedy Pharma and all the rest mentioned above. So disgusted with drug lies, high costs and control. I will look into alternatives and more natural healing than their habit forming, harmful drugs. Be your own advocate, these people are not to be trusted….IMO.

    Last week I heard from a trusted source that the FDA has gotten over $1 billion in ‘fees’ (eye roll) from big pHARMa. This is a great article, thank you People’s Pharmacy!

    Thank heavens for Joe and Terry. Website is invaluable and so necessary. Big Pharma and misinformation rule so we need help!

    We value the People’s Pharmacy. Over the years my husband and I have learned so much that has helped us to make informed decisions regarding pharmaceutical products. The Graedons have helped thousands of people by providing information that is often difficult to find elsewhere.

    I second what Tom M says, in that I trust none of them, especially Big Pharma.

    My husband and I value your comments and trust they are accurate. Thanks for your reporting on the valuable topics!

    The FDA is the agency that recently issued a letter to genomic testing labs prohibiting them from suggesting the a gene mutation might make you more susceptible to adverse reaction(s) from a specific drug. They also claim drugs are “safe and effective” when experience shows some of them are deadly. I don’t trust them at all.

    I have not trusted big biz nor Gov agencies for years after seeing the lack of action to protect the American people, and their pets I might add, from harm. When the harm caused by legal drugs and processed foods are made known by sites like Peoples Pharmacy, and nothing is done, then I am amazed at how quickly people can be drawn in to out-and-out lies by the propaganda put out by the govt. and big biz .

    I emailed a friend about the danger of that one antibiotic family that has caused so much damage plus the flu shot and vaccines. Statins too. Well I got an earful. She believes that she did not get the flu because she had the shot. She believes her doctor when he told her there are no heavy metals in vaccines, that the flu vac was safe,that antibiotics are safe, and that statins are safe and stop heart attacks.
    This is a woman in her 80s who was well traveled and smart.

    I fail to understand how intelligent people can believe such lies.
    Anyone have a clue?

    I have a friend who has been a doctor for 40 years. He distrusts hospitals and doctors. He know how they operate and knows too much about how unsafe they are for many patients. My husband was told to take statins, and if he ever decided to stop taking them, he would die. The statins almost killed him! He could barely walk; his personality changed dramatically; and he had other problems. He threw the statins away, and it took him about a year to get back to normal. Neither of us take any drugs at all. I found a great doctor who believes as I do that if you leave your body alone, many times it will heal itself. She never forces pills on me.

    I trust none of them. They are all out to protect their own turfs. All Big Pharma has to do is throw a few million dollars at Google and like magic search engine results are skewed toward pharma drugs. I would never trust WebMd because it is run by pharma interests. The FDA and CDC are two agencies also highly controlled by pharma and its agenda. Most negative drug studies never see the light of day. There are few long term studies as to how we are affected by common drugs.

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^