Must-read book about drug costs gives insight into development of hep c treatments

Hep C made me hungry–not for food, but for information. I’ve been reading websites galore, magazine articles, news articles, and books about hepatitis. You’ll find references to my favorite reading discoveries in the Research Notes page of this blog. Although books, by nature, take the most time to read, I find that my reading speed picks up and often flies when I’m immersed in the right book. Deadly Monopolies by Harriet A. Washington is one of them.

The book tells the story of many drug discoveries, as well as drugs taken out of production or never developed because of the big pharma profit quest. In the pursuit of those profits drug companies have sought patent protection for almost every medical breakthrough they can possibly lay claim to. These include patents on genes and even human tissue. Did you know there was a patent on the hepatitis C genome? Yep. It was held by Chiron Corporation. The California firm patented the virus in 1987. It used the patent to quash another drug company’s efforts to sell a low-cost test for the virus. Washington has a lot more to say about drug costs and about hepatitis as well. Her book is an engaging, revealing, and somewhat frightening read.

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