January 29, 2012

Big Pharma really does kill

Blood Feud: The Man Who Blew the Whistle on One of the Deadliest Prescription Drugs EverBlood Feud: The Man Who Blew the Whistle on One of the Deadliest Prescription Drugs Ever by Kathleen Sharp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, the label of "Big Pharma" can be thrown around indiscriminately.

Then, a book like this suggests we need to use it even more.

There's an ugly world out there of drug company sales reps essentially bribing doctors, hospitals and clinics to use their brand of drugs. There's gimmes galore, and far beyond note pads or pens. Add in lines of credit, rebates, discounts, free initial supplies of drugs and more, and its sickening.

Then, the George Bush FDA decided to roll back most of the limited amount of regulation the agency had done before.

Sickening, and more. Ultimately, deadly, in the case of "epo," the drug at the center of this book.

It's within this background that Mark Duxbury gets trapped in a corporate web of pressure, eventually being forcibly extricated by firing after Ortho, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, decides to dump him on the curb because it didn't like his testimony in a sales territory legal hearing vis-a-vis Amgen. But, he wasn't fired until he'd undergone an extensive "gaslighting" campaign by his bosses.

Duxbury ultimately got legal standing for a whistle-blower suit against the "venerable" but not-worth-venerating J&J. But, it was too late.

Essentially a victim of PTSD, he died just months later, not yet 60 years old.

If this sounds like a novel, it's not.

That said, some of the "touches" in the book came off as too "featury." The author, or an editor, should have whacked down more. And, I would have liked to have heard more from Duxbury's early sales compadre at Ortho, Mark McClellan.

It's still a five-star book, though. Including five stars of Big Pharma disgust.

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