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Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself--And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future. [Kindle Edition]

Harriet A. Washington
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the award-winning author of Medical Apartheid, an exposé of the rush to own and exploit the raw materials of life—including yours.

Think your body is your own to control and dispose of as you wish? Think again. The United States Patent Office has granted at least 40,000 patents on genes controlling the most basic processes of human life, and more are pending. If you undergo surgery in many hospitals you must sign away ownership rights to your excised tissues, even if they turn out to have medical and fiscal value. Life itself is rapidly becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the medical- industrial complex.

Deadly Monopolies is a powerful, disturbing, and deeply researched book that illuminates this “life patent” gold rush and its harmful, and even lethal, consequences for public health. It examines the shaky legal, ethical, and social bases for Big Pharma’s argument that such patents are necessary to protect their investments in new drugs and treatments, arguing that they instead stifle the research, competition, and innovation that can drive down costs and save lives. In opposing the commodification of the body, Harriet Washington provides a crucial human dimension to an often all-too-abstract debate.

Like the bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Deadly Monopolies reveals in shocking detail just how far the profit motive has encroached in colonizing human life and compromising medical ethics. It is sure to stir debate—and instigate change.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Harriet A. Washington's Deadly Monopolies:

“Important. . . . Humane. . . . An extraordinary achievement. . . . Deadly Monopolies explores contentious issues in modern biomedical research that have been aggravated by the field’s commercial emphasis. . . . Washington offers an overarching framework that enables readers to see connections that are often obscured. The book’s brilliance lies in the compassionately told narratives of individuals whose lives have been affected by the increasing corporate control of scientific research.”
The American Prospect
“Harriet Washington shines her relentless torch into the darkest corners of Big Pharma with courage, dedication and accuracy.”
—John le Carré

“Harriet Washington has written an important and compelling book. She shows how recent changes in patent law have caused drug prices to soar, while reducing innovation by drug companies to near-zero. Well-documented, yet highly readable, the book paints a vivid picture of an industry that now exploits monopoly rights to patients’ genes, and relies on taxpayer-funded NIH research for its few novel and important drugs—even as it turns out an endless stream of trivial variations of top-selling old drugs.”
—Marcia Angell, M.D., author of The Truth About the Drug Companies and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine

“Big Pharma is not going to like Deadly Monopolies one bit, but you probably will—especially if, like most Americans, you’re finding the co-pay on your drugs too much to handle. Washington correctly reminds us that, as hard as high drug costs are in the USA, they are lethal for the world’s poor. Brava Harriet Washington!”
—Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks

“Patents, we’re repeatedly told, are crucial to fostering innovation. Deadly Monopolies reveals how the privatization of medical science is retarding research, putting patients at risk, and making what cures we have exorbitantly expensive. This book is a meticulously documented exposé of what’s gone wrong with our medical innovation system, and a roadmap for change.”
—Merrill Goozner, author of The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind The Cost of New Drugs

“[Washington] adeptly details the wide-ranging repercussions of this monopolistic research model and recounts chilling anecdotes that reveal a pattern of shady practices by biotech and pharma companies. . . . The author clearly presents data to elucidate these complex issues, and cogently argues that there are opportunities to reinstate transparency, collaboration and altruism in drug development and disbursement. A gripping, revelatory account.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

About the Author

Harriet A. Washington is the author of Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2007 PEN Oakland Award, and the 2007 American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. She has been a fellow in medical ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2263 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004EWEUV0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,058 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Washington hit this one out of the park October 31, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Washington's ability to present very complicated information in an understandable way for the masses is amazing. Her references are impeccable. She presents facts in a way that you can form your own opinion and follow references to clarify and verify. This is an excellent read for anyone who might cross the healthcare system in any way and I guess that means anyone who is alive. Congratulations on a work well done.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important work November 13, 2011
By A
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An important work that should be widely read despite a couple of forced examples that would have made a stronger argument by their absence. I subtracted a star because of her ridiculing of some disabling and disfiguring male health concerns, at odds with the empathy she shows in the rest of the book. Anyone who similarly ridiculed investment in female reproductive health would be strongly denounced, I suspect especially by the author herself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Say.... August 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book be read by all functionally literate humans. I underlined and made so many notes in my copy of the book, it could not possibly be re-sold to anyone.

A lot of what I read was "you don't say." However, when I read about presumed consent and how in most states it is legal to harvest your body and or organs without consent, had steam coming from my ears(figuratively, of course). I want choke a doctor and his/her co-conspirators.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Changer January 4, 2014
By wanda
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
DEADLY MONOPOLIES will change your life! Once you begin reading this book, your approach to your health will be transformed. If I had known years ago what I now know, so many things would be different. Save your loved ones by reading this book, and save yourself by asking the questions that will get you the answers you need. I suggest buying multiple books or sharing the reading because it's going to expand your mind. Truly a revolutionary read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Provocative October 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Shows a slice of government intervention that doesn't add to scientific inquiry. This book tells how patents interfere with creativity and curiosity.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to be shocked and dismayed December 17, 2011
This isn't the world you thought you lived in. Harriet Washington is an excellent writer, who has made sense out of masses of medical material and shared some startling facts with us. She has sounded the alarm and we need to heed it, before it is too late for our children and their children. Kudos to you Ms. Washington for writing this explosive book (and taking the time to set the negative commenter straight). Wow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Reading August 16, 2014
I wish everyone would take some time to read this very important text and document. This book should be classified as a real life horror story. Harriet Washington is an excellent researcher and writer. I look forward to reading more of her insights and advise.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Medical Industrial Complex January 19, 2012
An Excellent and Timely Book- The concerns raised By The Author are now spreading to the developing World.
An Article today in NY Times - India Blogs mentions about Physicians enrolling patients in Trials without consent, These Physicians were fined a token sum of 99 $!

As a Physician who has now been reclassified as a health care Provider. I can recall transition of Pharmaceutical Representative's ( generally with a Degree in Pharmacy or Biological Sciences)-Many of whom provided us with peer review and hard to get Articles. - to a Sales Rep.( A business or Humanities major)who has been trained to promote a single Drug for which He or She has been Trained In House and their main task has been reduced to bringing Donuts for the Office Staff of a large Clinic and checking with the Local Pharmacy about prescribing patterns.
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