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Laughing Gas, Viagra, and Lipitor: The Human Stories behind the Drugs We Use
Format: HardcoverChange
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
When I bought this book, I didn't quite know what to expect, other than the story of how some drugs are made. I didn't know if it would cover a few "blockbuster" drugs or entire classes of drugs and I didn't know if it would be written for a lay person or a scientist. Having been fascinated with drug synthesis for years, I bought the book and hoped for the best. And, the best is what I discovered.

This book, written by a biopharmacologist, could have been a nightmarish read due to the complexity of the subject matter. And, while some knowledge of chemistry and biology is needed to fully comprehend the book, it is written in a way so that most lay people will be able to understand the most important material included. Yes, some of the information will be over the head of the average reader, but I'm not sure it could have been made simpler without losing some of the very necessary information needed for the formation of these compounds.

Despite my fears, the book does cover a wide range of drugs in a wide range of classes. Each chapter is devoted to a class of drug, and the sub headings are devoted to either specific drugs, or their groupings. The chapters, in order are:

* The Cancer drugs

* Drugs to Kill Germs

* Cardiovascular Drugs: From Nitroglycerin to Lipitor

* Sex and Drugs

* Drugs of the Mind

* Diabetes Drugs

* Anesthetics

* Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

The detail in each chapter highlights and explores the various drugs within the class that made them special, noteworthy or historical to medicine. The details are often times amazing, and fun, and provide an insight into how researchers work. The processes that go into finding a drug are amazing, and it is a miracle that any of us has a drug in the medicine cabinet at all.

Who would have thought that aspirin was once a prescription drug, while heroin was available over the counter? Or that some medicinal chemists will test, literally, hundreds of thousands of compounds looking for the one that does something (anything)? These are numerous other facts can be found throughout the book, but I won't divulge more in an effort not spoil anything.

Do not be mistaken by the title; the book is serious reading and does require some knowledge of chemistry and biology to fully understand the material. It can, however, be read with a note to history if you pass over the physical equations. The author did do a fabulous job of taking arcane and difficult chemistry and turning it into material that is very readable. If you have any interest in drugs, science or research methodology, buy the book and enjoy! It is a wonderful look at what happens in the ivory towers of the pharmaceutical industry, with an additional peek into academia. The infighting between factions is just an added bonus!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Really quite informative. Perhaps the most interesting point is that most of the development of a marketable drug is in the upscaling to the manufacturing process. Some drugs never make it to market because they can not be mass produced. Also, our system may not be the best, but the slow process seems to prevent big mistakes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book is very well written and tells each story about the drug in an engaging and intersting manner. I was very impressed with the background research that went into presenting these facts. A very good read and full of worthwhile informtation. The structural formulas for the compounds was very valuable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
this was a fascinating history of how medications were developed. I was both entranced and horrified by some of the stories.
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