Blood-boosting Procrit is Johnson & Johnson's biotech superstar. Behind its various brand names, it ranks as Medicare's most reimbursed drug. But Procrit performs frighteningly well, and can stimulate so many blood cells that thousands of patients die in unexplained and painful ways. And that's not all: Cancer patients, who often receive injections, are never warned that the drug stimulates tumor growth, too, prompting one leading hematologist to dub it "Miracle-Gro for cancer".
While patients have no clue about the risks behind this poorly tested drug, Johnson & Johnson sales rep Mark Duxbury knows precisely what is happening - the pharma behemoth is blatantly marketing overdoses of the drug. Duxbury tries to warn his superiors and is forced to testify in a secret court about illegal schemes. But his honesty costs him his career. Humiliated and ignored for years, Duxbury is ultimately betrayed in a shockingly cruel way. The psychological trauma drives him to attempt suicide, yet he fights on for several more years until the heartbreaking end. A Civil Action's Jan Schlichtmann has taken on the case, and is back in federal district court in Massachusetts. And all the while, Johnson & Johnson has continued to push sales of Procrit.
Blood Feud is award-winning journalist Kathleen Sharp's nail-biting expose of the Procrit case. Packed with corporate espionage, plot twists, and larger-than-life characters, it's as gripping as it is terrifyingly true.
"Sharp tells the story of sales rep Mark Duxbury, who challenged the wisdom of selling Procrit and, after testifying in a closed court, was hounded from his job." (Library Journal)
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Did Procrit kill my late husband?
There was a lot going on in this story! Some of the details just didn't make sense until later and my mind was very busy wrapping around the whole story. The second time I listened to the whole story in two days time and it fit together better then. I wouldn't change a thing about the book though!
I just could not believe they kept getting away with it and it just kept getting worse. It seemed the truth just took soooo long to come out.
I wanted to but after staying up all night the first night I backed it up and took it slow because there really is a lot going on at once.
I was fascinated by this story. It was just very emotional for me because I have to wonder if Procrit overdose may have killed my late husband and with that on my mind the whole book through it made it rather weighty. I wish I had known about this back then so I could have gotten some answers and perhaps sued them too!
- Anna "When I have a little money I buy books and if there is any left over, I buy food."
Slow and Frustrating
This is a long saga about a person with terminal bad judgment having the bad luck to become a salesman and fall into a pharmaceutical scandal. At the end of the book, you realize the huge impact of luck on human events.
In this case the flawed salesman, Mark Duxbury, a person who smoked, drank, had emotional problems, and used general poor judgment, was ultimately responsible for his own failed quixotic quest. We the people are the unlucky ones, because it seems pretty clear if a better person had stumbled on the Johnson & Johnson Procrit scandal, many people's lives would have been saved.
The book suffers from another flaw. The author, in an apparent attempt to add color and interest, litters the book with similes (it spread like kelp on an artificial reef) and internal dialogues (he looked out the window and thought the weather reflected his prospects). I have a hard time believing the author was able to accurately discover minutia, such as whether Duxbury decided to pass up a cup of coffee when leaving an airport ten years earlier, so I found these bits of "color" distracting.
As the end of the day, you'll come away believing that Procrit is bad, Johnson & Johnson is bad, many doctors and lawyers are bad, and the author has an excuse for her incredible litany of Duxbury failures. I found the whole thing boring and disappointing.
- John R. Holmes, Jr.