... fast-paced and maddening ... what’s most surprising and powerful about The Hard Sell is not one company’s criminality — we’ve grown inured to corporations behaving badly — as much as how institutionalized these practices were across the modern drug industry ... My one big complaint about The Hard Sell is that it’s unclear how much damage Subsys did in the context of the broader opioid epidemic. Hughes includes tales of people overdosing and becoming addicted, of lives and families shattered, but I was left unsure whether prescription drugs like Subsys were a root cause of the fentanyl crisis, a contributing factor or a meaningless blip ... At times I wondered if the answer might be the latter and if Hughes was dodging an inconvenient fact so as not to deflate an otherwise compelling story. If so, he needn’t have worried. Even if Insys turns out to be a footnote in the opioid epidemic, there is value in exposing the world to the scummy underbelly of a powerful industry — especially one that has become the sudden object of so much public gratitude.
... a tightly focused and insightful account of how a company that went public in the most successful IPO of 2013 soon ended up a poster child for corporate greed and chicanery, a firm so corrupt that prosecutors brought it to heel using federal statutes created to fight the Mafia ... Marbled throughout The Hard Sell are vivid portraits of key executive ... If there’s one element that gets relatively short shrift, it’s the patients who got addicted to Subsys. Although no one contends that the painkiller played remotely as big a role in the opioid crisis as OxyContin, I wanted to read more about people who took it for aches that had nothing to do with cancer and got hooked ... Still, as a gripping tale of one drug firm’s unscrupulous efforts to profit from pain, The Hard Sell is hard to beat.
Does the world really need another book about the opioid crisis?...The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes proves a worthy addition to the collection ... Hughes wisely avoids the ground covered by his predecessors ... isn’t so much a book about the opioid crisis as it is an in-depth look at an especially brazen company operating in the sometimes murky world of specialty pharmaceuticals ... Hughes captures the unsavory conversations that took place among low-level sales reps, marketing executives and other figures who dreamed up schemes to push Subsys, but he’s less rigorous about calling out the grownups who might have prevented Insys’s expansion. Who were the underwriters who took this obviously shifty company public? Who sat on the board of directors? And why, when presented with an overdue internal investigation of Insys practices, did the board and chief executive ignore recommendations to terminate bad actors?
An account of the inner workings of a pharmaceutical company could have been dull in the hands of another author, but Hughes brings it to life beautifully. He weaves together a vivid cast of characters—doctors, sales reps, and executives—with key commentary illustrating the connections between a relatively small drug company named Insys Therapeutics and the broader opiate epidemic. As compelling as a true crime documentary, the book details Insys’s relentless quest to corner the drug market with its version of fentanyl and chronicles the resulting federal trial ... Even readers with little background on the topic will find themselves riveted by the narrative—and disgusted by the tactics and mindset of Kapoor and his colleagues. Hughes perfectly captures the human impact of pharmaceutical sales and corporate greed ... Anyone who picks up this title will be left reflecting on how the U.S. medical system and drug companies have recklessly destroyed countless lives. A book readers will not soon forget.
... revelatory ... Hughes does an excellent job of illuminating the inner workings of Big Pharma’s malicious practices ... While the arc of this story won’t surprise readers familiar with the recent Purdue Pharma headlines, this is a powerful indictment of abhorrent industry practices.