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Jun 04, Pages. Sep 27, Pages. A husband and wife race to find a cure for the disease that has inspired a serial killer to terrorize Manhattan in this classic medical thriller from 1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben. Their family and social connections tie them to the highest echelons of the political, medical, and sports worlds—threads that will tangle them up in one of the most controversial and deadly issues of our time. One by one, his patients are getting well. And now Michael has been diagnosed with the disease. Add to Cart Add to Cart. About Miracle Cure A husband and wife race to find a cure for the disease that has inspired a serial killer to terrorize Manhattan in this classic medical thriller from 1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben.
Also by Harlan Coben. Through persuasion and persistence he was able to secure the first five grams of penicillin to be used on a patient.
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The dosage was enough to save Ms. It was Schatz, sequestered in a basement laboratory, who began to test soil samples from as many places as he could muster. What they uncovered were loads of bacterial examples. Through test after test, they finally secured, with the help of entities such as the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the next step in antibiotic evolution-streptomycin. This new incarnation solved the puzzle of tuberculosis and a host of other bacterial diseases, but where Rosen excels is what comes after the discovery. Unlike the Germans before them, who were anti-patent, and valued patience, skill, and luck above all else, once the capital reared its head, it turned Jekyll into Hyde.
Such was the future, as Big Pharm had arrived. Here Rosen uncovers sordid tales of advantage and astronomical claims left and right, though with the professionalization of medical care in the West there were victories as for instance, statistics and laboratory results become an integral part of research and development before drugs were released onto the market.
The Miracle Cure for Everything
However, the competition between the drug companies reached a fevered pitch as the diversity of antibiotics slowly tapered. Bacteria are sticky foes because they are constantly changing and adapting. Chemists must do so as well and advertising agencies cannot make grist for the mill out of thin air, however much they might try.
Here Rosen introduces us to the famous art dealer Arthur Sackler, who was a brazen huckster in the ad business. Sackler single-handedly created the idea that drug sales could increase through carefully constructed media advertisements placed in respected trade journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Cloaked within these ads were enticements for doctors to order the latest miracles for their patients. The race was underway to raise the most profits.
As Rosen delineates, all of this rampant commercialization came under scrutiny when Parke-Davis, a major pharmaceutical player, developed a new runaway antibiotic called Chloromycetin, which took on the insect-borne bacteria known as typhus. All seemed well, data supported claims, and summarily the new drug spread like wildfire.
That was until Dr. Albe Watkins, a doctor in Southern California, suddenly lost his own 9-year-old son after he was given a dosage of Chloromycetin. This set in motion a decade-long debate about the role of government officials in influencing policy. Welch became the kickback poster boy for Big Pharma as it was uncovered that he took money from Pfizer to feather his own nest. Particularly in the United States, this runaway train was slowed, as Rosen helps us to understand by examining Congressional oversight during the Kennedy administration. Through the work of Senator Estes Kefauver and other bureaucrats, but more importantly the endeavors of Dr.
It was Kelsey though who provided the impetus to get involved when she refused to rubber stamp the newly released antibiotic for expectant mothers called thalidomide. Thus, as Rosen tells us, the machine of pharmaceutical innovation would never have existed were it not for the antibiotic revolution.
See a Problem?
Overall, William Rosen has provided us with a huge amount of food for thought in this important monograph and placed the chemistry lab at the center of the development of antibiotics. A Biography of Cancer 3 comes to mind. Unlike other sciences, many 19th century cornerstones in the field have been utterly discarded. Coupled with the story of the rise of major pharmaceutical companies and the professionalization of healthcare is the main question that Rosen asks us to grapple with: What is the best way to know what actually cures disease?
Maybe we will never really know what medical inventions actually work?
Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben
During the s and s, the lack of government oversight allowed for antibiotic research to flourish. Restrictions were so loose they led to over deaths by poisoning in the Massengill Company disaster and the tardy passage of the Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the same year, In the end, though, collaboration occurred organically among the community of chemists, professors, doctors, and other professionals. However, the products were left to boards of directors, avaricious companies, advertising firms, some well-meaning and not-so doctors, and of course, the general public. The results have been mixed at best.
However, as Rosen reminds us, doctors at one time could only set a bone, deliver a baby, or speculate on the arch of an illness—so this book really does describe a revolution in medicine. One unintended effect was produced; with the over-prescription of antibiotics, the bacteria have adapted to fight another day. He writes succinctly, and uses just the right amount of metaphorical turns of phrase. I do not think I ever would have thought to compare I. Farben and the New York Yankees, although they both existed during the same time period p.
Where the monograph falls short at times is in contextualizing his story within the greater historical movements of the time period in which he is examining. For instance, when he sets the stage for the First World War p. Another area where Rosen falls a bit short is in his discussion of the conspicuous consumption of the early 20th century and the subsequent rising standards of cleanliness and health reforms of the s.
Of course, this was spawned not just by the Great War, but also the great influenza that followed.
Rosen makes no mention of the impact of this series of events on the chemistry laboratory, which I believe would provide the reader with the proper backdrop. I also believe that he should have drawn on a more diverse group of sources, especially concerning secondary material.
I realize these rights are expensive and challenging to obtain, but they do enliven the subject matter from a material culture point of view. The narrative approach and style he employs works so well that this is book you will want to read as a scholar or for general interest. As students of history we are always thinking about the past and what we will produce in a writing project.
What will we leave behind that future generations of scholars and writers will remember us by? To alter the quote used at the end of Miracle Cure: