MEDIA: Poisoned! Book Review –
May 13, 2019 – At first, things went nicely. Hamied’s business, Cipla, founded in 1935, quickly grew adept at reverse-engineering drug formulas, and by midcentury it was supplying India and other countries with low-cost versions of important Western medicines. In the 1980s, when the United States began allowing the import of such generics, Cipla and other generic makers became heroes to critics of Big Pharma. This admiration grew when Cipla revealed in the early 2000s that it would provide an H.I.V. drug that cost roughly a dollar a day — about 4 percent of Big Pharma’s price — to tens of millions of Africans who would otherwise go untreated. Gandhi’s dream had gone global. Alas, Cipla’s triumph is pretty much the last feel-good moment in this lively but dark story. Cipla, almost a tenth the size of Merck, has kept its nose clean. But much of the wider generics industry is harming and sometimes killing patients by making drugs quick and dirty and erecting facades of legitimacy to fool regulators. This booming industry, with most production coming out of lightly regulated plants in India and China, is pumping bad medicine into unsuspecting patients in every corner of the globe.