Prescription for Profits: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Bankrolled the Unholy Marriage Between Science and Business

Linda Marsa, Author
Linda Marsa, Author Scribner Book Company $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-80002-8
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Science reporter Marsa gives convincing evidence of how ""commercialism has tainted basic science to the point where it now jeopardizes public health."" The book focuses on two major medical developments of the 1980's: the search for an AIDS cure and the rise of aggressive new biotechnology companies. Along the way, she gives ample proof of how money corrupted the scientific process, by dictating what research paths were followed and how those paths stifled an open exchange of ideas. As the search for cures became intertwined with the search for profits, Americans died. Marsa knows her science, and keeps the technical sections clear, though, perhaps in an attempt to hold the interest of the broadest possible audience, a little too concise. But she maintains a lively pace by personalizing events and including vivid character sketches of her subjects (her portrait of the AIDS researcher Robert Gallo is especially biting). Marsa spares no one, from Ivy League professors to the National Institutes of Health, although she does place most of the blame on the antiregulatory fervor of the Reagan administration, which ""transformed the once pristine laboratory into a hotbed of commerce."" One wishes, however, that Marsa had included some suggestions for change; she merely urges giving more power to the NIH, whose inefficiencies and corruption she has just chronicled so well. (May)
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