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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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