From an award-winning Fortune reporter, an explosive narrative investigation of the generic drug boom that reveals the life-threatening dangers posed by globalization—The Jungle for pharmaceuticals
The widespread use of generic drugs has been hailed as one of the most important public health developments of the twentieth century. Today, almost 90 percent of our pharmaceutical market is comprised of generics, the majority of which are manufactured overseas. We have been reassured by our pharmacists, our doctors, and our regulators that the generic and brand-name drugs are identical, generics just cheaper. But is this really true?
Katherine Eban’s Bottle of Lies exposes the widespread deceit behind generic drug manufacturing—creating terrifying risks for global health. Drawing on exclusive accounts from whistleblowers, inspectors, and regulators, as well as thousands of pages of confidential internal FDA documents, Eban reveals an industry where fraud is rampant, companies falsify data, and executives circumvent almost every principle of safe manufacturing to minimize cost and maximize profit. Meanwhile, patients unwittingly consume adulterated medicine with unpredictable and even life-threatening effects.
The story of generic drugs is truly global: it connects middle America to sub-Saharan Africa, China, India, and Brazil, and encompasses every market banking on the promise of a low-cost cure. Given that tens of millions of patients take drugs of dubious quality approved with fake data, the generics industry is the ultimate litmus test of globalization: what is the risk of moving drug manufacturing offshore, and is it worth the savings?
An investigation with international sweep, exotic settings, molecular mayhem, and big money at its core, Bottle of Lies reveals how the world’s greatest public-health innovation has become one of its most astonishing swindles.