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Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Gerald Posner traces the heroes and villains of the trillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical industry and uncovers how those once entrusted with improving life have often betrayed that ideal to corruption and reckless profiteering—with deadly consequences.
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.
Pharma introduces brilliant scientists, in-corruptible 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. Pharma reveals how and why American drug companies have put earnings ahead of patients.
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 TheNew 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.
"Jacques Roy's consistently clear performance of Posner's audiobook is appropriate for its tone. Posner's research into the pharmaceutical industry is unsparing. Listeners are guided through the history of an industry that routinely seeks profit over public interest. Key details are covered: Why are there so many variants to over-the-counter painkillers? How did Oxycontin become so popular despite demonstrable public harm? Posner's research is exhaustive and provides damning insights. ('Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli was publicly vilified in 2015 for raising a vital drug's cost from $13 from $750, but that price remains unchanged.) Roy's approach to this work provides a neutral yet engaging tone for its information on the nature of this controversial industry."