A thoroughly researched and considered industry critique that includes substantive, visionary ideas for rehabilitation.

Find It, File It, Flog It

PHARMA'S CRIPPLING ADDICTION AND HOW TO CURE IT

A searing indictment of “Big Pharma” offers specific recommendations for change.

British pharmaceutical industry consultant Rees (Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry, 2011) takes aim at the fundamental manner in which drug companies do business in a book that calls for nothing less than a massive overhaul. Tracing big pharma’s emphasis on blockbuster drugs to an early 1980s marketing war between two stomach-ulcer drug brands, the author demonstrates that patents have continued to drive drug companies’ business strategies today. Their approach, Rees writes, has “involved finding a promising patented compound (Find It), placing it into a development pipeline intended for regulatory approval to market (File It), and then marketing the approved product with the utmost verve and vigor (Flog It).” The book delves into exactly how pharmaceutical companies operate (it is quite similar in Europe and the United States), exploring the inner workings of the industry via text and diagrams. One of the more remarkable aspects exposed is the fact that big pharma companies “have little or nothing to do with operations in the distribution network”; in fact, only three distributors in the United States control about 80 percent of the market. This, according to the author, is typical of big pharma: “Today, hardly anything hasn’t been outsourced to some extent.” Of larger consequence is the fact that the failure rate in drug development remains so high: “For every 250 compounds that enter the development pipeline, 249 fail to reach their destinations.” Unfortunately, the solution to this pervasive malaise is “to adopt a totally different approach toward product development,” Rees writes. This is perhaps where the greatest strength of this deft volume emerges. In addition to his own suggestions for change (including recommending that regulators require “companies to obtain licenses to develop drugs beyond the prototype phase” and “postmortems on all failed drugs to establish what went wrong”), the author makes extensive use of interviews he conducted with numerous professionals, offering their input as expert witness statements. This technique immediately legitimizes the author’s perspective and makes the book far more powerful than if it were written in his voice alone. This is not an empty diatribe—it is a necessary wake-up call for an industry apparently blinded by profit. 

A thoroughly researched and considered industry critique that includes substantive, visionary ideas for rehabilitation.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5142-6121-7

Page Count: 182

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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