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Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

by Gerald Posner


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Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Gerald Posner reveals the heroes and villains of the trillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical industry and delivers “a withering and encyclopedic indictment of a drug industry that often seems to prioritize profits over patients (The New York Times Book Review).

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as anti­biotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on pre­scription opioids have caused many to lose faith in drug companies. Now, Americans are demanding a national reckoning with a monolithic industry.

Gerald’s dogged reporting, sets Pharma apart from all books on this subject” (The Washington Standard) as we are introduced to brilliant scientists, incorruptible government regulators, and brave whistleblowers facing off against company exec­utives often blinded by greed. A business that profits from treating ills can create far deadlier problems than it cures. Addictive products are part of the industry’s DNA, from the days when corner drugstores sold morphine, heroin, and cocaine, to the past two decades of dangerously overprescribed opioids.

Pharma also uncovers the real story of the Sacklers, the family that became one of America’s wealthiest from the success of OxyContin, their blockbuster narcotic painkiller at the center of the opioid crisis. Relying on thousands of pages of government and corporate archives, dozens of hours of interviews with insiders, and previously classified FBI files, Posner exposes the secrets of the Sacklers’ rise to power—revelations that have long been buried under a byzantine web of interlocking companies with ever-changing names and hidden owners. The unexpected twists and turns of the Sackler family saga are told against the startling chronicle of a powerful industry that sits at the intersection of public health and profits. “Explosively, even addictively, readable” (Booklist, starred review), Pharma reveals how and why American drug com­panies have put earnings ahead of patients.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501152030
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/13/2021
Pages: 816
Sales rank: 90,821
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Gerald Posner is an award-winning journalist who has written twelve books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Case Closed and multiple national bestsellers. His 2015 book, God’s Bankers, a two-hundred-year history of the finances of the Vatican, was an acclaimed New York Times bestseller. Posner has written for many national magazines and papers, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek, and Time, and he has been a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, and FOX News. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author Trisha Posner.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Patient Zero 1

2 The Poison Squad 5

3 Enter the Feds 15

4 The Wonder Drug 25

5 "Could You Patent the Sun?" 40

6 An Unlikely Trio 47

7 A One-Atom Difference 58

8 A "Jewish Kid from Brooklyn" 65

9 Medicine Avenue 79

10 The Hard Sell Blitz 88

11 A Haven for Communists 97

12 The Puppet Master 110

13 Fake Doctors 117

14 A "Sackler Empire" 127

15 "Be Happy" Pills 139

16 "The Therapeutic Jungle" 158

17 "Paint the Worst Possible Picture" 165

18 Thalidomide to the Rescue 174

19 The $100 Million Drug 184

20 Legal but Somehow "Shifty" 191

21 Targeting Women 199

22 Death with Dignity 210

23 "Go-Go Goddard" 218

24 "Here, Eat This Root" 230

25 "They Clean Their Own Cages" 234

26 "Splashdown!" 247

27 "Tell Him His Lawyer Is Calling" 253

28 A New Definition of Blockbuster 262

29 "Kiss the Ring" 270

30 The Temple of Dendur 276

31 "Valiumania" 285

32 Swine Flu 294

33 "Black River" 310

34 "Everything Can Be Abused" 323

35 The Age of Biotech 330

36 A "Gay Cancer" 339

37 "None of the Publics Damned Business" 356

38 A Pain Management Revolution 360

39 Enter Generics 369

40 Selling Hearts and Minds 383

41 "No One Likes Airing Dirty Laundry in Public" 395

42 "The Sales Department on Steroids" 403

43 "$$$$$$$$$$$$$ It's Bonus Time in the Neighborhood!" 415

44 Talking Stomachs and Dead Presidents 422

45 "We Have to Hammer on the Abusers" 435

46 "Giving Purdue a Free Pass" 451

47 "You Messed with the Wrong Mother" 463

48 Profits and Corpses 477

49 Gaming the System 492

50 Billion-Dollar Orphans 502

51 The Coming Pandemic 517

52 "Essentially a Crime Family" 522

Acknowledgments 535

Bibliography 541

Notes 575

Index 765

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