THE ASPIRIN WARS by Charles C. Mann

THE ASPIRIN WARS

Money, Medicine, and 100 Years of Rampant Competition

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The analogy to a military history is well fulfilled by this literate, compendious chronicle of the marketing of aspirin and its analgesic rivals, starting with the drug's final formulation in the late 1800's and ending with its current ``repositioning'' as a heart-attack preventive. According to Mann (a contributing editor to Science and The Atlantic) and Plummer, here we have a perfect history of medical hype: Aspirin's pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects are verifiable and even miraculous, but because its sole constituent, acetylsalicylic acid, had been known and therefore unpatentable in Germany, it became (along with heroin) one of the first drugs sold not by its chemical name but by its ``brand'': Aspirin. The company that sold it was Bayer of Elberfeld, later to become the monolith I.G. Farben. After WW I, when Germany could no longer transact business in many western nations, the brand name became a free-for- all. Among other things, the battle over market share gave rise to such institutions as the roadside billboard and the FDA. Then along came acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil)--and the plot continues to thicken. A well-told tale of greed, business acumen, and ongoing marketing genius that's also a microcosmic history of law, politics, and medical progress in the 20th century.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-57894-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1991




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