A solidly researched and informative look at the impact of negative drug reactions.

PERILOUS PILLS

PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM FLUOROQUINOLONE INJURY

A journalist explores the potential risks of a commonly prescribed antibiotic.

Not long after journalist and entrepreneur Heise took the antibiotic Levaquin, prescribed for a sinus infection,she was diagnosed with tendonitis throughout her entire body. Heise soon discovered a growing community of people who asserted that Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones caused a range of physical and psychological problems that were often difficult to treat. In this debut health book, the author investigates various issues with fluoroquinolones and what she sees as the insufficient regulatory response to them. She explores the history and development of the drugs, their use and misuse, and the warnings that accompany them. The author then steps back to put fluoroquinolones in the broader context of the pharmaceutical industry and the regulatory environment that governs it. The book notes how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded to complaints about fluoroquinolones by increasing the number of warnings issued but not limiting use of the drugs. (In the book’s epilogue, Heise notes that although Levaquin’s manufacturer stopped production of that drug in 2017, there are many other types of fluoroquinolones still available.) Over the course of the book, Heise raises points that are little known outside the pharmaceutical industry, such as that the FDA can ask companies to withdraw certain problematic drugs from the market, but has no authority to require it. The book also addresses general questions about the overuse of antibiotics and their impact on the body and the environment. Heise is a strong writer and her book is well organized and informative; she supports her arguments with a substantial bibliography and avoids taking an overly alarmist tone. She addresses issues, such as the corporatization of the medical system, but focuses on concrete actions that ordinary people may take, such as reporting symptoms through the FDA’s website.

A solidly researched and informative look at the impact of negative drug reactions.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73339-050-7

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Birdseed LLC

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2021

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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BROKEN (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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