... absorbing ... Hager... dissects how the rise of giant drug companies has changed medicine. His critique is no screed: He acknowledges, rightly, what they do well. As late as the 1930s, doctors had just a dozen drugs in their armory to fight diseases; today, they have thousands. He even admits a grudging admiration for drug marketing, which is extraordinarily effective.
Shows that drug development generally benefits human health and longevity, but there are often side effects for patients and society. Especially troubling is the influence of profit-driven corporations and the inequality of health care. Written for general readers, Hager’s book is entertaining, insightful, and recommended for all public libraries.
The stories are skillfully told and entirely entertaining ... The history of vaccines, mostly the story of smallpox eradication, is so satisfying that it deserves its chapter. Hager follows with exciting stories of discovery with an international reach—antibiotics in Germany, antipsychotics in France, cholesterol-lowering drugs in Japan—and plenty of unknown geniuses. Though not a muckraker, the author is no fan of drug companies, and he admits that new drugs are greeted with too much enthusiasm, unpleasant side effects invariably appear, and the juiciest pharmaceutical 'low-hanging fruit' was plucked during a golden age that ended 50 years ago ... An expert, mostly feel-good book about modern medicine.
Lucidly informative and compulsively readable ... Hager’s thoughtful and captivating survey leaves readers with the insights that finding 'magic bullets'—all-powerful drugs with no risk—is unlikely, and that no drug is all good or all bad.