Book Club

Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

Author: Katherine Eban

Many have hailed the widespread use of generic drugs as one of the most important public-health developments of the twenty-first century. Today, almost 90 percent of our pharmaceutical market is comprised of generics, the majority of which are manufactured overseas. We have been reassured by our doctors, our pharmacists and our regulators that generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts, just less expensive. But is this really true?

Katherine Eban’s Bottle of Lies exposes the deceit behind generic-drug manufacturing—and the attendant risks for global health. Drawing on exclusive accounts from whistleblowers and regulators, as well as thousands of pages of confidential FDA documents, Eban reveals an industry where fraud is rampant, companies routinely falsify data, and executives circumvent almost every principle of safe manufacturing to minimize cost and maximize profit, confident in their ability to fool inspectors. Meanwhile, patients unwittingly consume medicine with unpredictable and dangerous effects.

The story of generic drugs is truly global. It connects middle America to China, India, sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil, and represents the ultimate litmus test of globalization: what are the risks of moving drug manufacturing offshore, and are they worth the savings?

A decade-long investigation with international sweep, high-stakes brinkmanship and big money at its core, Bottle of Lies reveals how the world’s greatest public-health innovation has become one of its most astonishing swindles.

Bottle of Lies is an invaluable exposé, a reportorial tour de force and a well-turned epic.” (New York Times)

Dangerous Doses

Author: Katherine Eban

Stolen, tainted, and compromised counterfeit medicine has increasingly made its way into a poorly regulated distribution system—reaching vulnerable and unsuspecting patients who stake their lives on it. The heart of the problem lies in South Florida—and Dangerous Doses exposes it through a “ragtag group of seasoned investigators who seem as if they were cast right out of an episode of The Wire” (U.S. News & World Report).

In Katherine Eban’s hard-hitting examination of America’s secret ring of drug counterfeiters, these tireless investigators follow the trail of medication, stolen in a seemingly minor break-in, as it funnels into a sprawling national network of drug polluters. Their pursuit stretches from a strip joint in South Miami to the halls of Congress, as they battle entrenched political interests and uncover an increasing threat to America’s health.

Eban’s revelatory and damning crusade “combines investigative diligence, a natural storyteller’s gift for narrative, and a consumer advocate’s practical prescriptions for what to do about the counterfeit drugs that may have contaminated the supply at your local drug store. The result: A rare literary event—muckraking with a human face” (Victor Navasky, former publisher of The Nation).

An investigation into crime and corruption that offers “a journey into the underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry” (Buzz Bissinger)

Dreamland

Author: Sam Quinones

From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma to main streets nationwide, an explosive and shocking account of addiction in the heartland of America.

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America–addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.

With a great reporter’s narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive–extremely addictive–miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin–cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel–assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters–pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents–Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

Fentanyl, Inc.

Author: Ben Westhoff

A remarkable four-year investigation into the dangerous world of synthetic drugs―from black market drug factories in China to users and dealers on the streets of the U.S. to harm reduction activists in Europe―which reveals for the first time the next wave of the opioid epidemic

A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. “A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape,” writes Ben Westhoff. “These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs”―and all-too-often tragically lethal.

Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice―and those with arcane acronyms like 25i-NBOMe― were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories for proper scientific and medicinal purposes. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs’ effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this shadowy world. He tracks down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands, as well as a mysterious drug baron who turned the law upside down in his home country of New Zealand. Westhoff visits the shady factories in China from which these drugs emanate, providing startling and original reporting on how China’s vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. Poignantly, he chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand. From its depths, as Westhoff relates, are emerging new strategies that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many.

The Least of Us

Author: Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones traveled from Mexico to main streets across the U.S. to create Dreamland, a groundbreaking portrait of the opioid epidemic that awakened the nation. As the nation struggled to put back the pieces, Quinones was among the first to see the dangers that lay ahead: synthetic drugs and a new generation of kingpins whose product could be made in Magic Bullet blenders. In fentanyl, traffickers landed a painkiller a hundred times more powerful than morphine. They laced it into cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills to cause tens of thousands of deaths-at the same time as Mexican traffickers made methamphetamine cheaper and more potent than ever, creating, Sam argues, swaths of mental illness and a surge in homelessness across the United States.

Quinones hit the road to investigate these new threats, discovering how addiction is exacerbated by consumer-product corporations. “In a time when drug traffickers act like corporations and corporations like traffickers,” he writes, “our best defense, perhaps our only defense, lies in bolstering community.” Amid a landscape of despair, Quinones found hope in those embracing the forgotten and ignored, illuminating the striking truth that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.

Weaving analysis of the drug trade into stories of humble communities, The Least of Us delivers an unexpected and awe-inspiring response to the call that shocked the nation in Sam Quinones’s award-winning Dreamland.

OFF CENTERx

Author: Randy Grimes

Randy Grimes quickly learned one important truth as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ top draft pick: play through pain, or get cut.

This is just part of being a pro athlete, he told himself.

Growing up in Tyler, Texas, Grimes’s life was very much on center. A childhood spent in church on Sundays and on the gridiron all week turned into a football scholarship to Baylor, marriage to his college sweetheart, and a coveted NFL roster spot.

When the Bucs’ starting center began piling up brutal hits, he determined to do anything to stay in the game. If the pills prescribed by the team doctors could help, Grimes would take them.

All in a day’s work, he told himself.

Even before Grimes left the NFL, his life began slipping off center. Eventually, he lost almost everything he owned, the respect of his children, and very nearly his life, before tumbling out of the car and crawling on hands and knees into a treatment center—literally—into a life-changing miracle.

Off Center is Randy Grimes’s riveting story of having it all, playing the sport he loved, losing almost everything, and ultimately finding redemption and hope. Witness the addiction trap that binds millions and claims thousands of lives each year—and the steps Grimes took to reclaim his life and guide others.

Today Grimes and his wife, Lydia, stage drug and alcohol interventions for professional athletes, celebrities, business leaders, and everyday Americans to find recovery from addiction.

Recovery has become his playbook. His treatment center colleagues are his team. And those with addiction are his community.

Above all, Grimes wants people to know: Even when the world seems to be yours, there is room to fall. And even when that world seems to slip away, there is hope.

Timbi Talks About Addiction

Author: Trish Healy Luna & Janet Healy Hellier

“Timbi Talks about Addiction” is a softcover 32 page superbly illustrated picture book designed to help children cope with a parent’s substance abuse. Through Timbi, children learn that: addiction is a disease, it is not their fault, their varied emotions are valid. Timbi teaches them coping skills that they can use whether they are alone, or with a trusted adult to give them a much-needed sense of control in a chronically stressful environment. Timbi has been nationally recognized as an ideal resource to help families, teachers, counselors, physicians, judges, and advocates in the fight against the long-term damaging impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Victoria's Voice

Author: David and Jackie Siegel

On June 6, 2015, David and Jackie Siegel received the call that no parent should ever get. Their beautiful, vibrant, 18-year-old daughter Victoria had died of a drug overdose. The Siegels vowed to do whatever it takes to prevent this from happening to other parents.

Right after Victoria passed away, Jackie received a text from one of Victoria’s friends directing her to look in her bedroom nightstand for a secret diary she had kept – and suggesting they publish it. The Siegels decided to honor Victoria’s wish.

“Our daughter’s legacy is that her death will save thousands of other people’s lives” – that’s the commitment by her parents, David and Jackie Siegel, and their reason for publishing her diary- teen slang, bad language and all. Victoria’s diary, in her own hand and featuring her own art, is bookended by intros by her parents before it, and medical advice, tips and resources following her diary.

Victoria’s Voice is a gripping peek inside the mind of sometimes happy, healthy teen and other times a teen dramatically influenced by drugs and alcohol. This is Victoria’s Voice – from beyond the grave. It could save your child’s life.

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