An unsettling, illuminating, and provocative discussion of a pressing political issue involving drug companies.

Pharmageddon

A NATION BETRAYED

A book offers a critique of the pharmaceutical industry from a lawyer who battled it.

The currently contentious debate over health care has drawn the public’s attention to the pharmaceutical industry, a multibillion-dollar market that wields considerable influence over the political and medical communities. Sheller (Lawyering in Times of Saints and Evil Doers, 2015), an attorney with nearly a half-century of professional experience, spent a good deal of his career exposing big pharma’s more nefarious practices in court. For example, Eli Lilly marketed its “Prozac Weekly” pill by sending samples directly to candidate consumers, many of whom did not have a prescription for the drug, by accessing confidential medical information. Johnson & Johnson marketed Risperdal, a dangerous antipsychotic drug, to children with attention deficit disorder, some of whom were physically disfigured as a result. AstraZeneca illegally compensated physicians for prescribing Seroquel, another antipsychotic drug, which the company considered marketing with cartoon characters inspired by Winnie the Pooh. Time and again, Sheller uncovered a pattern of behavior that prioritized profit over consumer safety, facilitated by a collusion among politicians, regulatory agencies, medical professionals, and pharmaceutical companies, leaving the public woefully vulnerable. Sheller and Kirkpatrick’s (True Tales from the Edgar Cayce Archives, 2015, etc.) book does double duty: it’s a research study of the pharmaceutical industry’s misdeeds and a memoir recounting Sheller’s legal combat with the biggest offenders. His cases relied heavily on the testimony of whistleblowers, who are often too intimidated by the fear of reprisal to come forward. The work ends with a catalog of sensible policy fixes, which include the Food and Drug Administration’s dramatic overhaul and the establishment of independent clinical trials for experimental drugs. Despite Sheller’s many courtroom triumphs, he concludes on a less than sanguine note: “However much I would like to celebrate, I can’t claim victory. Newer and potentially more lethal pharmaceuticals enter the market each month, and the corporate titans with whom I do battle become ever more powerful and cunning.” The first chapter, which ultimately connects the voter fraud in the 2000 presidential election to a slackening of restrictions on big pharma, is far too digressive and lingers too long on the minutiae of that particular legal contest. But the remainder of the book furnishes relentlessly meticulous analysis, producing an impressive marriage of investigative journalism, legal scholarship, and public policy.

An unsettling, illuminating, and provocative discussion of a pressing political issue involving drug companies.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-615-89316-7

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Cape Cedar Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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