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BioPerspectives

"Miracle Medicines: Seven Lifesaving Drugs and the People Who Created Them." by Robert Shook

  • John Sterling

The pharmaceutical industry is sometimes portrayed as a greedy villain more concerned with profits than with patients' health. This week's podcast interviewee, Robert Shook, is a best-selling business writer whose just-released book presents an opposite point of view. Miracle Medicines: Seven Lifesaving Drugs and the People Who Created Them, published by Penguin Group USA, takes a behind-the-scenes look at seven pharmaceutical companies. Shook talked to the men and women--chemists, physiologists, medical and clinical researchers, engineers--who spend hours in the lab discovering and developing new life-saving and live-improving therapeutics.

During this week's provocative interview, Shook describes the common themes underlying the successful development of the seven drugs he writes about. He gives us his take on what he believes is responsible for Big Pharma’s negative image and explains how drug company executives view their responsibility of providing safe and effective therapeutics while simultaneously trying to maximize company profits.

Shook tells us why he considers Remicade, Johnson and Johnson's treatment for immune-mediated disorders, a miracle biotech medicine, and reveals how Lipitor, Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering medicine that is the world's best selling drug, almost never make it to the marketplace. Stressing that major pharmaceutical advances will continue to take place only in an environment that promotes harmony among science, industry, and government, Shook offers a plan for creating and maintaining such a harmonious environment.

Be sure to listen to this important and timely podcast then return to the blog and give your thoughts on the following questions:

Despite the number of life-saving drugs developed and marketed by pharmaceutical companies, the industry often gets bad press and frequently gets a nod of disapproval from the public. why do you think this is the case and what can the pharmaceutical industry do to avoid being perceived negatively?