After ten years of deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds spent, only one drug - AZT - has been officially licensed for the treatment of AIDS. That drug is more than thirty years old., is widely considered mediocre, and costs the AIDS patient $10,000 a year, Behind these bleak facts lies a byzantine narrative of vaulting ambition and greed, of vast sums of money filtered through government agencies and into the profit statements of Burroughs Wellcome, AZT's manufacturer. That story is told - and all its relevant names named - in Good Intentions, a gripping and controversial account of the public dimensions of AIDS. Chronicling the lethal progress of the epidemic and the machinations of those who profit from it, while identifying the lost opportunities, suppressed drugs, and genuine heroes of the AIDS crisis, this is medical reporting that cuts with the precision of a scalpel.
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Journalist Nussbaum's readable, gossipy book raises some important and hotly debated issues, but it also reduces thorny problems in medical research and ethics to a simplistic theory of conspiracy among medical researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies to keep promising AIDS drugs off the market and away from desperate patients. His narrative barely acknowledges the enormous difficulty of developing effective antivirals, the self-criticisms by government agencies and researchers charged with handling AIDS, or the ethical dilemmas encountered in distributing unapproved drugs. He also seems unaware or dismissive of the role that human frailty plays in the politics of science and business. Not on a par with such titles as Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On ( LJ 11/15/87), this is an optional purchase.
- Mary Chitty, Massachusetts Coll. of Pharmacy & Allied Health Svces. Lib., Boston
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Nussbaum's study of AIDS research has led him to criticize the National Institutes of Health, the FDA, AZT developer Burroughs Wellcome and others. "A hard-hitting, shocking look at profit-oriented AIDS research, this brisk journalistic account also tours a medical underground in which grass-roots organizations offer various unapproved drugs to people with AIDS," said PW. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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