A devastating portrait of America’s opioid painkiller epidemic – the deadliest drug crisis in US history.
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*LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING 2019*
‘A riveting and urgent reckoning of colossal corruption.’ – Philip Gourevitch
One hundred and fifty Americans are killed each day by the opioid epidemic, described by a former head of the Food and Drug Administration as ‘one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine’. But as Chris McGreal reveals in American Overdose, it was an avoidable tragedy driven by bad science, corporate greed and a corrupted medical system.
In a narrative brimming with the guilty, the victims and the unlikely heroes, Chris McGreal travels from West Virginia ‘pill mills’ to the corridors of Washington DC as he unravels the story of Big Pharma’s hijacking of American healthcare and politics to push mass prescribing of ‘heroin in a pill’.
He meets the police and FBI agents who struggled to get prosecutors to go after doctors they called ‘drug dealers in white coats’; the families devastated by painkillers they thought would heal, not kill; and the physicians and scientists who took on the drug companies behind the epidemic. The result is an immensely powerful account of the terrible human cost of the crisis, and a stark warning of the consequences of a healthcare system run as a business, not a service.
A searing book... Appalachian accents and anger steam off the page.
Staggering... Zola-esque in its dark twists and turns.
An engaging, cogently argued book.
A detailed and compelling account... Reads like a white-collar The Wire, with a cast of characters determined to exact as much money as possible regardless of the human cost.
Horrifying... The book is excellent at documenting the failure of the US regulatory and law enforcement system.
Astonishing... McGreal's book is forensic in its detailing and turns up some eye-popping examples.
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