Sunday, June 02, 2013

Summer Reading contd. Blood Medicine by Kathleen Sharp

The Story

About Blood Medicine:
Blood Medicine is Kathleen Sharp’s superbly reported, breathtakingly true story of Big Pharma’s power, the terrifying vulnerability of innocent patients, and what it takes to stand up for what is right.

The Drug: Called a “wonder drug,” this early biotech invention is a blood booster that spawned three lucrative brands: Procrit, Epogen and Aranesp. No one claimed the drugs would cure a disease. But they did give sick people more energy and stamina. Yet, marketeers quickly expanded that into unproven claims of more zest, sex, and “happiness.” It sounded so good…..

The Protagonists: Sales reps Mark Duxbury and Dean McClellan feel honored to be working for the Johnson & Johnson family, selling Procrit. But soon, they’re told to perform schlocky “studies,” pay “fees” to doctors, and illegally increase drug dosages to build sales. Mark protests, and bad things start to happen. Dean, however, continues to climb the ladder…

The Antagonists: Rivals at Amgen who sell two other brands of the drug called (Epo); Aggressive J&J sales managers; weak corporate directors; well-meaning, albeit ham-strung regulators; and special-interest lawmakers…No one seems to be able to stop the mounting fraud or the patient deaths.

The Climax: With $100 billion in sales, $60 billion in Medicare payouts, and no strong, proven benefits, Procrit and its cousin are still on the market – wasting our tax dollars. The justice system has stalled. When will Jan Schlichtmann, Duxbury’s attorney, win the case and retrieve desperately needed health-care funds?

“A blockbuster of a story, especially today with Medicare potentially on the chopping block.”

– Kirkus Reviews (read all reviews here) 

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