Adam Orford's Reviews > The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines

The Drug Hunters by Donald R. Kirsch
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This is a very readable collection of stories about the discovery of important drugs - aspirin, sulfa, Thorazine, the pill, insulin, etc. It is organized via a creative application of Borges’ Library of Babel - drugs stories are collected together by “book,” I.e., loosely, the genetic or physical collection of potential drug sources through which people have searched for medicines - the “book” of plants, the “book” of soil, the “book” of inorganic chemistry, etc. This is kind of fascinating.

But it has a couple strikes against it. Having read this right after reading an investigation into oxycontin addiction, I thought it was just way, way too pro-pharma. It is also not clear who the author is - there are large parts written in the first person but there are two names on the cover. And, frankly, the book would be more understandable if the chapters were just named for the drugs that they discussed, because the “book” thing really doesn’t hold up over the short course of the entire book.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 28, 2018 – Shelved

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