How two giant pharmaceutical companies defrauded the public, flouted government regulations and ignored patient safety in their cutthroat competition.
In this hard-hitting exposé, investigative journalist Sharp (Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and Their Entertainment Empire, 2004, etc.) tells the shocking story of how Amgen and Johnson & Johnson partnered to commercially develop a seemingly miraculous anti-anemia drug that would reduce the need for blood transfusions. They conspired to push the drug through the FDA's licensing process without establishing FDA-mandated safety standards while battling ferociously between themselves for market share—secretly selling the product at steep discounts, fraudulently encouraging customers to bill Medicare at full price and using various under-the-table means to give kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug. Although the original license specified the drug's use for patients suffering kidney failure, J&J encouraged its use for cancer patients in therapy and started a marketing campaign to encourage doctors to raise the prescribed dosage. Mounting evidence of dangerous side-effects—blood-clotting, rampant spread of cancers and the sudden death of professional athletes who used the drug to enhance their stamina—were disregarded. Sharp artfully weaves in the riveting story of a high-flying salesman at J&J who feared he would be scapegoated for the criminal activities mandated by his bosses. Once rewarded with lavish holidays and other perks, he experienced the dark side of the American Dream when he was fired and blackballed, but he decided to fight back and become a whistle blower. The author unveils how the FDA's regulatory process has been systematically defanged beginning in the mid-1990s when direct TV advertising to the public was allowed. Since then, funding for the agency has decreased and corruption has flourished.
A blockbuster of a story, especially today with Medicare potentially on the chopping block.