Thursday, May 12, 2016

The LITIGATORS and AMERICAN PAIN: Two Books About Pharmaceuticals


 
My goal is to read and review 71 books between October, 2015 and October, 2016. I have posted 31 reviews through April, covering 38 books read since October 22, 2015. Some posts cover two to more novels, including the January post for the first four John Sandford's Virgil Flowers police procedural/thrillers. For the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge, I posted two reviews per week.

Today’s post covers two books. The Litigators is a novel; American Pain is non-fiction. Both books deal with pharmaceutical companies.

 

John Grisham’s legal thrillers need no introduction and offer a challenge for the reader to describe something as yet left unsaid about the author or the novel, The Litigators.

The novel begins in the vein of other “lawyer leaves the fast track of a large legal firm to find happiness” tales. This story includes the humor of two over-the-hill ambulance chasing back street lawyers and their self-declared office manager. Add to this the obligatory big, bad pharmaceutical company pushing drugs that allegedly make people dead.
Into this mess staggers the above-mentioned, fast-track deserting lawyer after sobering up from a celebratory drunk, san safety net and sans courtroom experience. With a few unexpected twists, and a satisfying climax, The Litigators was worth my time to read. An additional benefit was the interesting peripheral case handled on the sly by the fast-track deserting lawyer who himself benefitted from an unexpected windfall of information.
Varrick Labs and the drug Krayoxx are part of Mr. Grisham’s world of fiction. But there are real stories about real drug companies in the business of making money off the suffering of others. Fellow human beings quickly become addicted to the pills these companies pedal as safe and “non-addictive.” This is accomplished not only under the guise of relieving those burdened with unbearable and unrelenting pain, but also under the protection of the law.
 
American Pain by John Temple has a 2015 copyright. In it, the author lays bare the facts about pain clinics and “pill mills” in the United States. Addressed are the loopholes that led to the widespread use of oxycodone and the brand-name drug OxyContin, in Florida and Kentucky, and around the nation. Meet users and abusers and losers. But don’t jump to any conclusions about “druggies” just yet. 
 
OxyContin became the top-selling brand-name controlled substance. Ironically, the instructions for usage were the handbook for how to modify the drug to get very, very high. Increasing the potency as addiction bled in was only a matter of logistics: when “this” stopped working, do “that”; when “that” stopped working, do “this other thing”. When users began dying like flies in the noon day sun, the death rate outnumbered cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. The prescription drug was being marketed legally and the marketing department was doing a bang-up job of selling their product. (Tobacco companies come to mind?)
 

It occurs to me that John Grisham’s The Litigators may have
more in common with American Pain than I first realized.

 

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