Wednesday, May 5, 2010

True Crime and Public Policy: Dangerous Doses

I don't read a lot of non-fiction books (except the occasional Highsmith biography) -- true crime or otherwise, but I picked up and devoured a really great book recently, Katherine Eban's Dangerous Doses (which is subtitled in hardback, How Counterfeiters are Contaminating America's Drug Supply; and in paperback, A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters, and the Contamination of America's Drug Supply). I'm always looking for a good heist, and recently in Connecticut, there was a $75 million product theft from an Eli Lilly pharmaceutical warehouse. I read the news story and subsequently, the New York Times ran an op-ed ("Are You Buying Illegal Drugs?") co-authored by Eban, which led me to her 2005 book. Boy, does she have a yarn to tell!

Basically, Dangerous Doses tells the story of the illegal and gray markets of bought and resold prescription drugs. Worse, some very expensive drugs (hundreds of dollars or more per dose) are "uplabeled": 200 U/mL doses become falsely labeled 2,000 U/ml (which means a patient is not receiving the prescribed dose, and the medicine has often degenerated). This would be interesting by itself (and was the source of a 60 Minutes segment), but it becomes riveting because Eban has a great cast of characters: an emotional, larger-than-life cop, an unlikely prosecutor, a do-nothing boss, a shady urologist, an over-the-top criminal, and so on. The investigative team does great work -- a good plug for dedicated civil servants -- though today, apparently, our prescription drug supply is far from safe.


Dinah Bee Menil said...

Nice site, very informative. I like to read this.,it is very helpful in my part for my criminal law studies.

Ann Littlewood said...

Aaaargh! I am already scared about drugs! I hope Kaiser Permanente (my HMO and the largest non-governmental drug purchaser in the world) does its research! Thanks for the info.