Dense Yet Enlightening. If you’re like me and don’t like taking books across into a new month, I do *not* recommend trying to read this on the last day of the month while still working or having virtually any other obligation. Though its bibliography is a touch low at just 17% of this advanced copy (and it has numerous problems, at least in this form, of saying something like “the industry spent $ billions of dollars” without actually giving the number – a problem I’ve never noted before in any other such text), much of the reason for that is that the author himself conducted so many interviews and consulted the public court records so much, so at least there is that on that particular point. Beyond its sourcing though, this is truly a fascinating yet *dense* look at the particular issue of the AMP v Myriad patent lawsuit that eventually became a landmark Supreme Court of the United States case, detailing its full history and the personnel involved, at least insofar as their personal involvement with the case goes. (Vs other similar books looking at a particular issue like this, where full biographies of the personnel are given. Here, just enough biography is given to establish who this person is within context of this issue and their motivations surrounding it, without giving their full life stories outside of events connected to this exact case.) You may say to yourself “this is just 350 or so effective pages, that is an easy day’s read”. IT. IS. NOT. I cannot reiterate enough just how dense (yet truly readable and fascinating) this book is. Almost as though it seems to try to pack in double the amount of words of a book of similar length. Still, it is truly compelling, truly comprehensive, and truly well written, and for this it is very much recommended.
This review of The Genome Defense by Jorge L Contreras was originally written on October 1, 2021.
This week we are looking at an eye opening klaxon call warning us of the inner workings of the drug industry in the US. This week, we are looking at Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes by Robin Feldman.
Quite simply, if you are an American reading this and you only read a single book between now and the November 2020 elections, it needs to be this one.
Fully 46% of the edition I read was bibliography and index – that is how well documented this treatise is. Indeed, at times it seemed that literally every sentence Feldman wrote had a footnote marker at the end of it.
And what she documents here is simply astonishing. I think many of us have suspected various pieces of the problem for quite a while, and indeed reform efforts as long ago as the mid 80s, when I was a toddler, have sought to correct some of what is described in this book. But as Feldman points out, many of these reforms have only exacerbated the problem rather than solving it.
Feldman does an excellent job introducing the problem in Chapter 1, spends chapters 2-4 detailing the problem from multiple perspectives, discusses an actual study of the problem she executed in chapter 5 – which is astonishing in its own right and not to be missed – and finally details some potential solutions in Chapter 6. It is refreshing that she explicitly states in the introduction to Chapter 6 that many of her proposals won’t be politically palatable and so gives a range of options from possibly politically palatable yet likely ineffective to almost a third rail of politics yet could likely actually solve the issue.
If this book gets the discussion it deserves, it will likely be a driving force in at least some of the 2020 campaigns, and it deserves to be. Feldman truly does a superb job of documenting and explaining her case, and I look forward to seeing where this goes.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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