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Blood Medicine: Blowing the Whistle on One of the Deadliest Prescription Drugs Everby Kathleen Sharp
Synopses & Reviews
Blood Feud is the electrifying true tale of Big Pharma's power, regulatory weakness, and the terrifying vulnerability of millions of innocent patients.
The Drug: Procrit
An anti-anemia drug, this miraculous blood booster was one of the first biotech blockbusters. Developed by Amgen and licensed to a Johnson & Johnson company, the drug was sold by the two companies under the brand names Procrit, Epogen, and Arenesp.
The Underdog: Mark Duxbury, Drug Salesman
Duxbury was the gung-ho salesman for the new biotech division of J&J, an irrepressible character full of jokes. In the early 1990s, he set out to spread the benefits of Procrit, and became a true believer and top seller. But he and his peers were told to steal business from J&J's partner, Amgen. Then came the marketing studies, the off-invoice rebates, doctor payments, and off-label claims. Duxbury tried to stop some of these ruthless programs, but was fired on trumped-up charges. He tried anything to warn the public: testifying in a secret arbitration, joining a class action effort, and filing a whistleblower suit. But he was thwarted at nearly every turn-until the surprising end.
The Best Friend: Dean McClellan, Drug Legend
Dean McClellan was Duxbury's friendly rival. He tried to beat his buddy's record and wound up selling $170 million worth of the drug, becoming a legend. When Duxbury got fired, McClellan tried to distance himself. But as news of Procrit's deadly power started to surface, McClellan agreed to hand over thousands of damning documents and help his friend blow the whistle on J&J.
The Crusader: Jan Schlichtmann, Esq.
Remember Jan Schlichtmann, protagonist of the best-selling book and Oscar nominated movie, A Civil Action? When he learned of Duxbury's mission, he felt the old fire rising in his belly and signed on. Now, he's gambling on yet another long shot, trying to fight on behalf of not just millions of cancer patients, but for every American who overpays for health-care.
“Blood Feud rivals A Civil Action for best non-fiction book of the past twenty years.” — John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of Damage
Procrit seemed like a biotech miracle, promising a golden age in medical care. Developed in the 1980s by Amgen and licensed to the pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, the drug (AKA Epogen and Aranesp) soon generated billions in annual revenue—and still does. In 2012, world famous cyclist, Olympian, and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was banned from professional cycling on doping charges for using EPO (the blanket name for the drugs Procrit and Epogen), resulting in a global controversy about abuse, big pharmaceutical companies, and the lies and inaccuracies concerning performance-enhancing drugs.
Mark Duxbury was a J&J salesman who once believed in the blood-booster, setting record sales and winning company awards. Then Duxbury started to learn unsavory truths about Procrit and J&J’s business practices. He was fired and filed a whistleblower suit to warn the public.
When Jan Schlichtman (A Civil Action) learned of Duxbury’s crusade, he signed on. Now, he’s fighting on behalf of cancer patients and for every American who trusts Big Pharma with his life.
About the Author
Kathleen Sharp is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Parade, Elle, and Fortune, among many other publications; she has won six awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, among other honors. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.
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