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The Big Fix
Katherine Greider

Posted August 6, 2003

Published by (ISBN 1-58648-185-1
) $14.00 US / $22.00 CAN

Meet the MucCuddys of Ohio. In late 1999 Melva MucCuddy seventy-seven learned she had breast cancer, and her health problems and- drug bills mushroomed. Get Melva on the subject of prescription drug costs and before long she's liable to mention her son. Jim MucCuddys, fifty, had a severe heart attack two years ago and endures a host of related chronic conditions. Jim recently discovered that his health-insurance premiums or going up to almost $700 a month, and was what about the $900 monthly cost of his medicines? “I can't pay it,” he says gloomily. And like his mom, Jim worries about his own son, twenty-eight year-old James W. MucCuddy; last winter he started vomiting blood-an ulcer. His two brand-name prescription drugs cost about $200 a month. That may not seem like a lot, but Jimmy works as a cook for $8 an hour, with no benefits. “It takes a week's check to buy his prescriptions,” says his father. Melva is right on the money when she talks about profits: The drug industry is the most profitable of any in America and has been at or near the top for a generation.- From Katherine Greider's The Big Fix

”Ask your doctor about…” Americans now hear these words coming from their television more than they hear “It’s the real thing” or “I'm not going to pay allot for this muffler.” Ads for ads for prescription drugs are routinely pitched to consumers with images of hope, terror, and chic- and they work. Meanwhile, the drugs that many people need in order to stay healthy are increasingly priced out of their reach to justify the expenditure of these elaborate marketing campaigns.

And yet, for all their newfound prominence, pharmaceutical companies have begun to find themselves in a precarious position. They have created an impressive array of “mega brands”- blockbuster drugs like Viagra, Nexium, Vioxx, and Clarinex with huge sales- but when patients expire on these in flagship products sales suffered dramatically. In order to meet Wall Street's growth expectations, drug companies must produce billions of dollars worth of new revenue fast. The best way to do this, they have found, is by charging you more than you could afford for drugs you may not need, by investing in a that panoply of product-line extensions and me to drugs aimed at grabbing market share, and by spending aggressively on flogging their products in every imaginable venue.

In The Big Fix journalist Katherine Greider gives us the full diagnosis of the industry's shenanigans and successes. Read this book to understand how the situation got this bad and what can be done to repair it.

Katherine Greider has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance magazine writer. Her articles often focus on health and medical topics, have appeared in a dozen publications from Self to Mother Jones. She lives in New York City with her family. For further information or to schedule an interview please contact Kasey Pfaff, Senior. Publicist, at


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