Blockbuster Drugs

  • by Jie Jack Li
  • Narrated by Susannah Tyrrell
  • 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Blockbuster drugs - each of which generates more than a billion dollars a year in revenue - have revolutionized the industry since the early 1980s, when sales of Tagamet alone transformed a minor Philadelphia-based firm into the world's ninth-largest pharmaceutical company. In Blockbuster Drugs, Jie Jack Li tells the fascinating stories behind the discovery and development of these highly lucrative medicines, while also exploring the tumult the industry now faces as the "patent cliff" nears. Having spent most of his career in drug research and development, Li brings an insider's eye to the narrative as he recounts the tales of discovery behind such drugs as Tagamet, Zantac, Claritin, Prilosec, Nexium, Serouquel, Plavix, and Ambien. As he discusses each breakthrough, Li also shows that scientific research is filled with human drama - serendipitous discoveries, sudden insights, tense confrontations. For instance, the author tells of James Black, who persisted in the research that led to Tagamet-and that would ultimately win him a Nobel Prize - despite pressure from top executives to pursue "more profitable" work. The audiobook shows how research behind Prilosec combined creativity, international cooperation, and luck - the turning point being a chance encounter of American and Swedish scientists at a conference in Uppsala. There are also tales of fabulous rewards - George Rieveschl, the chemist who invented Benadryl, made a fortune on royalties - and of unjust desserts. Finally, Li shows that for the world's largest prescription drug manufacturers, recent years have been harrowing, as many popular drugs have come off patent in the U.S. market, meaning hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue. Anyone who enjoys tales of scientific discovery, or is curious about the history behind the prescriptions they take, or wants a revealing inside look at the pharmaceutical industry will find this audiobook well worth listening to.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great topic, but poor writing and bad performance

This book contains lots of interesting history of how important drugs were invented, including key principles of medicinal chemistry and Pharma strategy. Unfortunately, those gems are buried amongst boring details like the long biographies of unknown chemists. The chapters have no clear organization or flow. The narrator sounds like a spoof of a British royal on benzodiazepines, with tons of drug and chemistry mispronunciations.
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- Jacob Brenner

Worst Narrator EVER

What would have made Blockbuster Drugs better?

The narration on this is abysmal. All sorts of odd (maybe overly British?) pronunciations i.e. meegrain for migraine, beeta blocker for beta blocker and the list goes on. So bad, I'm considering returning it as I'm not sure I can make it through 5 more hours of this. UGH... Really need to read a book similar to this for work...

How did the narrator detract from the book?

see above...

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- Paul Manz

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-25-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios