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The Price of Health

The Modern Pharmaceutical Industry and the Betrayal of a History of Care


From "pharma bros" to everday household budgets, just how did the pharmaceutical industry betray its own history—and how can it return to it's tradition of care?

One in five Americans has skipped vital medicines simply because of the cost. The modern pharmaceutical industry is arguably the most highly regulated enterprise—and cost-inflated—in the United States, perhaps the world. But that was not always the case. 

How did we get into this nightmare? As a global pandemic rears its ugly head and we desperately work towards for a vaccine and mitigating treatments, this is perhaps the first time in history when questions about drug pricing are discussed openly and honestly.

The Price of Health is the alarming story of how the pharmaceutical industry destroyed its reputation in a remarkably short period of time, betraying its own history. But, more hopefully, this is also the story of how we can still right the ship.

Kinch and Weiman reveal how medicines have been discovered, developed, distributed, and paid for throughout the years, providing new clarity on how these changes have contributed to rising costs.  Some of the individual activities and system reforms will be familiar, but the implications of these actions for the people consuming those medicines are surprising and at times shocking.

Like so much else in human history, the history of pharmaceuticals is comprised mostly of well-intended and even noble individuals. Each contributed to the formation of structures meant to improve the quality and quantity of life. And yet these systems originally created to do good have been manipulated in ways that have often been contrary to the motivations of their creators. Only by understanding this disconnect can we better tackle the underlying problems of the industry head on, preventing future pandemics to come.

Michael Kinch was a professor at Purdue University, where he researched breast and prostate cancer. He then went on to found an oncology program at the biotechnology company MedImmune. He has led drug discovery at Yale Universit and is now a professor and Vice Chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity; The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity and the Future of a Cure, both available from Pegasus Books; and A Prescription for Change (UNC Press).

Lori Weiman is the Principal and Founder of Weiman Strategic Advisers, LLC, and has established productive public-private partnerships with trade associations, advocacy groups, non-profit organizations, academia and governmental agencies.

More books from this author: Michael Kinch