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Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself--And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future. Hardcover – October 4, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528924
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Deadly Monopolies:

"Deadly Monopolies explores contentious issues in modern biomedical research that have been aggravated by the field’s commercial emphasis.....Though she is not the first to raise many of these concerns, 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. Rather than simply writing another book about biomedical wrongdoing, Washington with her journalistic approach provides a more humane account of the problems tied to the for-profit nature of today’s research industry. In doing this, Washington accomplishes what has thus far escaped previous authors. She makes the case for a broader political consciousness of science and technology....This is precisely the conversation an important book starts in order to challenge readers to see the world differently so that they connect the disparate dots. Deadly Monopolies is an extraordinary achievement in this and many other regards."—Osagie K. Obasogie, The American Prospect

"A searing look at the medical-industrial complex and its ability to patent genes and other biological products, resulting in an opportunistic and powerful pharmaceutical industry that often ignores the most pressing global-health issues in order to make a profit.

National Book Critics Circle Award winner Washington (Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, 2007, etc.) begins with the controversial 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, which allowed the commercialization of medical inventions based on government-funded patents, including those on living things. As a result, an unprecedented collusion between universities, researchers and private pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies spawned an era in which many vital medicines are too expensive or inaccessible to average consumers, or rushed to market before being adequately tested. Despite the fact that taxpayers largely fund medical research and development, pharma companies include that cost in their purported expenses, therefore using disingenuous figures to justify the skyrocketing costs of patented drugs. The author 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. These firms often display a lack of respect for patients' rights in a ruthless pursuit of "blockbuster" drugs without regard for helping those who need it most. As of 2009, only 10 percent of the more than $70 billion spent per year on medical research addresses “diseases that cause 90 percent of the world's health burden.” In addition, minorities and poor populations are often exploited for their genetic material yet not compensated for their contribution. Thousands of people die from preventable causes simply because it's not profitable to save them. 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)

“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

“Harriet Washington shines her relentless torch into the darkest corners of Big Pharma with courage, dedication and accuracy.”    
—John le Carré

“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

Praise for Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Apartheid:

“An important book. The disgraceful history it details is a reminder that people in power have always been capable of exploiting those they regard as ‘other.’”
New York Times

“A fresh account of the Tuskegee study, including new information, lies at the center of Harriet A. Washington’s courageous and poignant book. Washington sheds light on how our understanding of what constitutes medical research requires broadening in the face of new developments in genetic science.”
Washington Post Book Review

Medical Apartheid is fascinating and compelling . . . The book’s analysis challenges the reader to question established paradigms in the history of medicine.
—Dr. Marius Turda, Oxford Brookes University, in Social History of Medicine

“Groundbreaking . . . Washington is a great storyteller, and in addition to giving us an abundance of information on ‘scientific racism’ the book, even at its most distressing, is compulsively readable . . . Paints a powerful and disturbing portrait of medicine, race, sex, and the abuse of power.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“One of [Washington’s] goals in writing this book, aside from documenting a shameful past, is to convince [African Americans] that they must participate actively in therapeutic medical research . . . while remaining ever alert to possible abuses . . . Sweeping and powerful.”
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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Saundra Minneapolis on 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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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A on November 13, 2011
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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By E. Tyler on June 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written, easy to understand and full of useful information about where we are now in the area of health and wellness! Unless enough sane people wake up and stop the madness, we will are all part of a profitable medical cash cow.
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By wanda on January 4, 2014
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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By nm paris on 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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By Big Sistah Patty on 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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