BITTER PILLS

INSIDE THE HAZARDOUS WORLD OF LEGAL DRUGS

A big, sprawling, highly personal inquiry into the making, approval, selling, and prescribing of drugs. When a single dose of the antiobiotic Floxin sent Diane Fried to the emergency room in delirium and left her with serious neurological problems, her journalist husband turned his investigative eye on Floxin’s safety. It is a well-told story, fascinating and often frightening, occupying nearly a third of this book. From it, Fried (Thing of Beauty, 1993) then began a broader investigation into the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, seeking to find the flaws in the process by which drugs make it from pharmaceutical lab to family medicine cabinet. Fried attended medical and scientific conferences and government hearings, compiled enormous files of documents, and seemingly interviewed just about anyone with anything pertinent or interesting to tell him about the hazards of legal drugs: researchers, pharmaceutical company reps, FDA officials, and patients with adverse-reaction stories. Trying for the big picture, he seems more often to resemble the blind men struggling to figure out the nature of an elephant from its separate parts. While this work lacks focus, Fried has an ingratiating personal style and he provides some insightful interviews with insiders as well as information on the safety of quinolones (the drug family embracing Floxin), how the FDA dealt with thalidomide in the 1960s, the development of powerful protease inhibitors to treat AIDs, and the growth of direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs. As might be expected, pharmaceutical companies come in for heavy criticism, but so does the federal government, for inadequacies in surveillance of drugs for possible adverse affects once they’re on the market. To reassure the nervous consumer, there’s an appendix on how to read a drug package insert and how to ask the right questions of one’s physician and pharmacist. For all its virtues, a collection of absorbing articles that never quite coalesces into a cohesive whole.

Pub Date: April 13, 1998

ISBN: 0-553-10383-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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