Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

by Katherine Eban
Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

by Katherine Eban


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New postscript by the author

From an award-winning journalist, an explosive narrative investigation of the generic drug boom that reveals fraud and life-threatening dangers on a global scale—The Jungle for pharmaceuticals

Many have hailed the widespread use of generic drugs as one of the most important public-health developments of the twenty-first century. Today, almost 90 percent of our pharmaceutical market is comprised of generics, the majority of which are manufactured overseas. We have been reassured by our doctors, our pharmacists and our regulators that generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts, just less expensive. But is this really true?

Katherine Eban’s Bottle of Lies exposes the deceit behind generic-drug manufacturing—and the attendant risks for global health. Drawing on exclusive accounts from whistleblowers and regulators, as well as thousands of pages of confidential FDA documents, Eban reveals an industry where fraud is rampant, companies routinely falsify data, and executives circumvent almost every principle of safe manufacturing to minimize cost and maximize profit, confident in their ability to fool inspectors. Meanwhile, patients unwittingly consume medicine with unpredictable and dangerous effects.

The story of generic drugs is truly global. It connects middle America to China, India, sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil, and represents the ultimate litmus test of globalization: what are the risks of moving drug manufacturing offshore, and are they worth the savings? 

A decade-long investigation with international sweep, high-stakes brinkmanship and big money at its core, Bottle of Lies reveals how the world’s greatest public-health innovation has become one of its most astonishing swindles.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062338792
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/23/2020
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 127,724
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Katherine Eban is a Rhodes Scholar with an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She has been covering medical fraud and health care issues for The Nation, The New Republic, Playboy, The New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and the New York Times Magazine. She worked as an investigations reporter for the New York Times, the New York Observer, and has been a contributing editor to New York Magazine. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her husband and Newfoundland puppy named Lola.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

About the Reporting xv

Important People and Places xvii

Prologue 1

Part I Shifting Ground

Chapter 1 The Man Who Saw Further 9

Chapter 2 The Gold Rush 17

Chapter 3 A Slum for the Rich 31

Chapter 4 The Language of Quality 41

Chapter 5 Red Flags 57

Part II India Rises

Chapter 6 Freedom Fighters 69

Chapter 7 One Dollar a Day 81

Chapter 8 A Clever Way of Doing Things 91

Chapter 9 The Assignment 101

Part III A Cat-and-Mouse Business

Chapter 10 The Global Cover-Up 121

Chapter 11 Map of the World 137

Chapter 12 The Pharaoh of Pharma 149

Part IV Making a Case

Chapter 13 Out of the Shadows 161

Chapter 14 "Do Not Give to FDA" 169

Chapter 15 "How Big Is the Problem?" 179

Chapter 16 Diamond and Ruby 195

Chapter 17 "You Just Don't Get It" 207

Part V Detectives in the Dark

Chapter 18 Congress Wakes Up 221

Chapter 19 Solving for X 233

Chapter 20 A Test of Endurance 245

Chapter 21 A Deep, Dark Well 259

Chapter 22 The $600 Million Jacket 273

Part VI The Watershed

Chapter 23 The Light Switch 293

Chapter 24 We Are the Champions 311

Chapter 25 Crashing Files 321

Chapter 26 The Ultimate Testing Laboratory 337

Part VII Reckonings

Chapter 27 Flies Too Numerous to Count 357

Chapter 28 Standing 377

Epilogue 395

Postscript 411

Acknowledgments 417

Glossary 421

Notes 427

Index 469

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