Miracle Cure

Miracle Cure

4.5 18
by Michael Palmer

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An agonizing sports injury did more than end Brian Holbrook's professional football dreams. It left the skilled cardiologist with an addiction to prescription painkillers that eventually cost him his marriage and his license to practice medicine. But now, at 38, Brian has cleaned up his act, swallowed his pride, and is ready to start over. The prestigious Boston Heart…  See more details below


An agonizing sports injury did more than end Brian Holbrook's professional football dreams. It left the skilled cardiologist with an addiction to prescription painkillers that eventually cost him his marriage and his license to practice medicine. But now, at 38, Brian has cleaned up his act, swallowed his pride, and is ready to start over. The prestigious Boston Heart Institute, home of some of the world's top surgeons and cardiologists, has offered Brian an opportunity to get back into scrubs...and participate in trials of an extraordinary new drug that could revolutionize medicine. Vasclear may have the power to reverse arteriosclerosis, the number one killer in the civilized world. In short, it offers the promise of a pharmaceutical fountain of youth. The initial results are so dazzling, Brian pushes to get his own father, who has a dangerous heart condition, accepted into the Vasclear study. But soon Brian is uneasy. With billions of dollars at stake in the race to get FDA approval for the drug, Brian's meddling could destroy his career - or worse. For as Dr. Brian Holbrook is beginning to suspect, at Boston Heart institute, knowing too much is the quickest way to the morgue.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association
Doctors as authors are able to achieve medical plausibility and avoid errors that many readers, especially the medically oriented, will spot. In Palmer's Miracle Cure, the Boston hospital complexes, down to their staff politics, finances, and architecture, have an authentic ring, which makes the thriller believable and all the more frightening.
Chicago Tribune
A highly entertaining tale of greed and medicine run amok.
Associated Press
Packs plenty of heart-stopping action.
Boston Sunday Herald
A fast-paced lively thriller.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this flawed medical thriller about the marketing of a new drug by veteran writer Palmer (The Sisterhood), one plot twist too many turns a frightening vision of corporate greed into an excuse for prefab heroics. The drug is called Vasclear, a heart medication being developed at the Boston Heart Institute by Newbury Pharmaceuticals. The FDA is being pressured by a Massachusetts senator (who, it turns out, is secretly taking Vasclear himself) to approve the release of the drug. And Vasclear may be the magic wand that can save the life of Jack "Coach" Holbrook, whose health is declining after a quintuple bypass. Coach's son, Brian (an M.D. living at home and working as a rental-car gofer while he recovers from an addiction to painkillers), not only faces the ethical dilemma of stealing the drug if he can't place his father as a test patient but also finds evidence of potentially dangerous side effectsevidence that could derail the drug's release to the public. The characters are sitcom thin, the moral dilemma is barely raised before it's resolved and the inclusion of a Chechen Mafia subplot only serves to transport the story further into an unlikely realm, where otherwise efficient killers do nothing more dangerous than send the hero a threat in the mail and members of drug and alcohol recovery groups know more about pharmaceutical companies than the FDA. Palmer's thriller-friendly prose, pacing and plotting draw readers on here, but, like Vasclear, his novel should have spent more time in development before it hit the shelves.
Library Journal
A disgraced doctor finds himself working in an experimental program where patients are dying mysteriously.
From the Publisher
"A highly entertaining tale of greed and medicine run amok."
Chicago Tribune

"Packs plenty of heart-stopping action."
Associated Press

"A fast-paced lively thriller."
Boston Sunday Herald

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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"Nellie's treadmill stress test was positive," Dr. Carolyn Jessup explained, "and a subsequent cath showed fairly severe coronary artery disease.  She was a perfect candidate for randomization into the Vasclear study.  Right, Nellie?"

Nellie Hennessey, eyes closed, was breathing deeply and regularly.

"Jennifer," Jessup went on, "maybe we should be giving her a tad less pre-op medication.  If I have to stay awake for this, everyone does."  She glanced over at the nurse, her eyes smiling.  "Seriously, nice job.  She's perfect....  Anyhow, Brian, Nellie's symptoms disappeared almost immediately and haven't returned.  This is her third and last follow-up cath.  Then she becomes an alumna."

"What Vasclear group is she in?" Brian Holbrook asked, already knowing the answer.

"Beta.  Okay, Doc, you're on.  Let's switch sides.  You do the right heart and afterward I'll switch back and do the coronary-artery shots.  Nellie's asleep so you're not being graded on this.  Just relax and have fun."

"Thank you."

Surprised and pleased at being asked to do anything other than observe, Brian moved behind Carolyn to take her place at the table.

"Everything on the Ward-Dunlop works pretty much like the one you're used to," she said, "except the controls are much more responsive, and the connections on the ports just click and lock."

"Impressive," Brian said, proceeding with the pressure studies and dye injections.

The nurse, Jennifer, was working beside him now, keeping a careful watch on Nellie, checking her blood pressure and IV.

"Everything okay?" Brian asked her.

"All systems are go," she replied.

Brian took some pressure measurements through the catheter, then injected some dye to check the tricuspid and pulmonic valves.  The moment he had thought might never come was here.  He was back in the cath lab, regaining control, piece by piece, of his own destiny.

"You seem pretty comfortable there, pardner," Jessup said, returning to her position to do the left heart and coronary-artery exam.

"Just like riding a bike.  She's got a pretty healthy-looking heart."

"Wait till you see her coronary arteries.  These pictures we're about to shoot are going to be the eighteen-month-afters.  The befores are in the cine-library through the door just past the women's changing room.  Did security give you a code for the keypad?"

"They did."

"Great.  Sometime soon, go and take a look at Nellie's pre-Vasclear films.  We've got two Vangard viewers in there.  One for backup."

"I'm impressed," Brian said.  The viewers, from what he remembered, cost around twenty thousand dollars apiece.

"You'll be even more impressed when you review her films," Carolyn said.  "Now, let's take a look at her left heart and coronaries."

The experimental Ward-Dunlop catheter was exceptionally easy to manipulate, and certainly showed up well on X ray.

"Left anterior oblique cranial...right anterior oblique caudal..."

Jessup called out each angle, waited for Andrew to position the X-ray camera, then injected some dye and activated the camera with her foot pedal.  Overhead, one screen showed the bright white of the X-ray-opaque dye as it briefly filled Nellie's coronary arteries before being washed away, and another traced her heartbeat, oxygenation, and other vital signs.  In the glassed-in control room to their right, the other nurse, Lauren, monitored duplicate screens, and kept watch over the machine that was recording the injections on videotape.  Later, the tape would be reviewed by Jessup, and a report dictated.  The width of every significant artery and every blockage would be carefully measured by computer and recorded.

"...Right anterior oblique cranial," Carolyn said, completing the last of the five left coronary-artery views.  "Okay, everyone, if there is anyone with reasons why this woman and this catheter should remain in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace....  There being no objections to removal of this line, I hereby do so."

Carolyn withdrew the catheter with the same smoothness, the same confidence, as she had displayed throughout the procedure.  But quite suddenly, a brief flurry of extra heartbeats appeared on the screen.  Then another burst.

A few moments later, Nellie Hennessey moaned.

Then she opened her eyes.

Then she began screaming.

From the Paperback edition.

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Miracle Cure 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Michael Palmer book that I had read. What a treat it was. Despite the deliberate beginning, you find there's a reason for that as the story takes place. As I neared the end, I felt the author was double parked. A high speed, low drag thriller that is well worth the read, virtually to the last page. Good stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the story starts rather slow and uneventfull, but after the basics have been layed out the actaion begins to take off. I couldn't put the book down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of his best, has all the makings of a great movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful medical thriller. Lots of medical terms and accounts, comes from the author that is a doctor!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PatMackPM More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. This was my first medical thriller and the story kept me interested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me guessing and much better end then his typical book. Kept me interested with the mcguffin!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of his best. Kept me interested and guessin.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clinical and exciting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book but I liked The Fifth Vial much better. I found this book easy to put down, however I was curious as to what was going to happen. This is a one time read but I still want to read other books by Michael Palmer. --K--