Murdock was 49 in 1996, the CEO of a biotech company named CellPro, when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoma. Ensuing radiation and chemotherapy treatments failed to knock the disease back, and Murdock was medically doomed—except that his CellPro scientists had been developing a blood-filtering device that now had the potential to save his life. Unfortunately, the device was nowhere near even the testing stage—and even farther from the point where it could be approved by the government for human testing. To make matters worse, CellPro was involved in a lawsuit with the medical equipment giant Baxter Healthcare, which claimed that CellPro had violated a patent during the development process. Murdock has hold of myriad stories here—the lawsuit, his illness, the research race against time, government restraints on research, big business versus small upstarts, the horrors of bone marrow transplants, the ordeals faced by his family, the perfidy of ex-colleagues—and he successfully intertwines all these into a riveting whole. Strident, opinionated, and one-sided as far as the legal questions, yes—but Murdock has survived, and he has some heavy-duty finger-pointing to do here. Others may have made more reasoned arguments against government and big business strangling creative scientific research; but no one can beat Murdock’s personal urgency.
A wild ride with some important lessons.