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Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths About Pharma R & D [Kindle Edition]

John L. LaMattina
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book answers the questions about the process and costs of pharmaceutical R & D in a compelling narrative focused on the discovery and development of important new medicines. It gives an insider's account of the pharmaceutical industry drug discovery process, the very real costs of misperceptions about the industry, the high stakes--both economic and scientific--of developing drugs, the triumphs that come when new compounds reach the market and save lives, and the despair that follows when new compounds fail. In the book, John LaMattina, former president of Pfizer Global Research and Development, weaves themes critical to a vital drug discovery environment in the context. This is a story that Dr. LaMattina is uniquely qualified to tell.

Editorial Reviews


"This book, a concise and reasonably priced text, is a must-read for anyone working in the pharmaceutical industry. However, it is not just written for scientist, anyone interested in learning more about the big issues facing pharmaceutical research and development and global healthcare today should find this book thought-provoking." (Pharmaceutical Journal, September 2009)

"Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths About Pharma R & D is an generally persuasive argument for the soul of the pharmaceutical industry." (Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices, December 2009)

"I would recommend this book." (Chemistry World, June 2009)

"LaMattina stands out from many of the other observers of the industry." (Nature Chemistry, May 2009)

"The book provides unique insights into how big pharma manages its R&D. It also serves as a reminder of the useful role the drug industry play in keeping us healthy." (Chemical & Engineering News, April 20, 2009)

"The book offers an insider's account of the reality of the drug discovery process, revealing it to be more risky, complicated and expensive than many critics suggest. Chapter by chapter, LaMattina addresses the common misconceptions about the pharmaceutical industry, setting the record straight." (Kansas City InfoZine, February 2009)

"Along with a careful dissection of each false claim and a presentation of the overwhelming evidence that disproves it, LaMattina offers fascinating explanations of the way drug development and government approval function, relying not on clever rhetoric, but on scientific fact and reliable evidence to support his claims; all the while remaining realistic about the industry's limitations." (Medical News Today, February 2009)

"It's obvious from reading his book that LaMattina believes in his industry, in Big Pharma, and in the research and development that has led to drugs that have cured infectious diseases, delayed encroaching heart disease, controlled arthritis for many millions reduced pain and suffering." (, January 25, 2009)


"John L. LaMattina . . . the recently retired head of Pfizer's global research and development . . . by using well illustrated examples, takes us through the realities and myths about many of the issues surrounding the pharmaceutical industry. Rather than innuendo, he offers data. This is an important and timely book . . . In the end this book is about science where data rules . . . [and] should become indispensable to those who wish to either understand or set policy."
--Dr. Richard A. Lerner, President of The Scripps Research Institute

"Drug Truths is an authoritative, clear and accessible exposition of the realities of drug discovery and development. It is factual and balanced, although LaMattina does not shy away from criticizing some of the misguided views that have appeared in print. The main points are well documented and logically presented. The book is a splendid addition to the contemporary health care literature."
--E. J. Corey, Harvard University

Product Details

  • File Size: 1205 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,718 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's about time February 15, 2009
Full disclosure: I work at Pfizer, where John La Mattina worked, and I know John and have admired him for the duration of that relationship. The pharmaceutical industry is criticized at a high level for a variety of purported sins. In this wonderful book, John La Mattina addresses each one of those charges sequentially. He brings forth rich examples, with enough detail around each one to bring them vividly to life. This book puts a human face on the challenges of working in pharmaceuticals, and makes it abundantly clear why each of the charges is so wrong and so misleading. I can vouch for the truth of what he writes; as a current researcher inside Big Pharma, I live every day the challenges and heartbreaks that John so accurately describes in his book.
No human endeavour is perfect, and the book glosses over some of the background information which would better contextualize the information for the lay reader: the many differences between synthetic small molecules and antibodies or proteins produced by cells in culture, for example. But for all the stuff that counts, John has it exactly right: this is a book that accurately and thoroughly describes what *really* happens inside a pharmaceutical company. If you want a concise book that will show you how tough this business really is, this is the one.
Bob Chapin, Preston, CT
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want the facts on Big Pharma, here they are- January 13, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr. LaMattina's admirable effort to respond to the abundance of misinformation on the pharmaceutical industry is so well done and so readable- I only wish that he had produced this 10 years ago. As a former big pharma researcher myself, I can vouch for the accuracy of the information and the descriptions of the enormous challenges in the hunt for new medicines. This book offers one of the best defenses that I have seen of an industry that is perhaps more so than any other, entirely reliant on improving the health and quality of life of humankind. Marcia Angell- read this book. I'll buy you a copy. And thank you, John.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about prescription drugs February 28, 2009
Here's the real truth about prescription drugs - finally! The problems we face today can only be solved when everyone knows the facts. Unfortunately when it comes to prescription drugs, we've only had politicized speeches and sensationalized books portraying an evil industry bent on higher profit at the expense of us, the unknowing patients. As a long time drug researcher myself I can say that this book provides exactly what we need - an authoritative description of the complete drug discovery process. With examples of real life drug research, the author effectively debunks the supposed `facts' we have been spoon fed over and over again and gives us the true answers to all the questions we should be asking - who really discovers drugs, why drug research is so expensive, why some experimental drugs can fail after costing the company a billion dollars or more, why the drug industry is so important to current and future healthcare, and many more. With the new policies on health care that Obama is proposing, the timing couldn't be better. This book is a must-read for anyone who is serious about prescription drug policy, and should be required reading for everyone in Washington.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book ... A Life April 13, 2009
"I finished Drug Truths this evening. I truly enjoyed it. Associates and colleagues in the industry reading Drug Truths will be thrilled to hear Dr. LaMattina's informed optimism. They will undoubtedly rejoice in the pride of the mission to which he continues to dedicate his working life in their ranks and communicates so patently unapologetically in these pages. Dr. LaMattina's gift is not a only this book but a life spent in the service of his fellow men and women who have diseases and those who strive to eradicate and minimize human discomfort and suffering."

Richard Haffey
Author / Environmentalist
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More About the Author

Dr. John L. LaMattina is the former Senior Vice President, Pfizer Inc and President, Pfizer Global Research and Development. In this role, Dr. LaMattina oversaw the drug discovery and development efforts of over 12,000 colleagues in the United States, Europe and Asia. He retired from this position in December, 2007.

Dr. LaMattina spent 30 years at Pfizer Inc having joined as a medicinal chemist in 1977. Over the years, he held positions of increasing responsibility for Pfizer Central Research, including Vice President of US Discovery Operations in 1993, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Discovery Operations in 1998 and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Development in 1999.

Dr. LaMattina graduated cum laude from Boston College in 1971 with a B.S. in Chemistry. He attended the University of New Hampshire working with Professor Robert E. Lyle and received a Ph.D. from UNH in Organic Chemistry in 1975. He then moved on to Princeton University as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor E. C. Taylor.

During his tenure as head of global R&D, Pfizer produced new treatments for cancer, smoking cessation rheumatoid arthritis and AIDS. Dr. LaMattina is the author of numerous scientific publications and holds a number of U.S. patents. In addition, he is the author of "Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths About Pharma R&D" and "Devalued and Distrusted: Can the Pharmaceutical Industry Restore its Broken Image?" He also is a contributor to with his "Drug Truths" blog.

Dr. LaMattina has received a number of awards including the 1998 Boston College Alumni Award of Excellence in Science, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire in 2007, and the 2010 American Chemical Society Earle Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management.

Dr. LaMattina is a Senior Partner at PureTech Ventures. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Ligand Pharmaceuticals and the Scientific Advisory Board of Trevena Pharmaceuticals. Dr. LaMattina also serves on the Board of Trustees of Boston College where he chairs the Academic Affairs Committee.

Dr. LaMattina lives in Stonington, Connecticut, with his wife, Mary. They have three children. He has had a long history of community activities most recently serving as President of the Board of Trustees of the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.

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