Bitter Pills: The Global War On Counterfeit Drugs by Muhammad H. Zaman

The Blurb On The Back:

Long the scourge of developing countries, fake pills are now increasingly common in the United States.  The explosion of Internet commerce, coupled with globalisation and increased pharmaceutical use has led to an unprecedented vulnerability in the U.S. drug supply.  Today, an estimated 80% of our drugs are manufactured overseas, mostly in India and China.  Every link along this supply chain offers an opportunity for counterfeiters, and increasingly, they are breaking in.  In 2008, fake doses of the blood thinner Heparin killed 81 people worldwide and resulted in hundreds of severe allergic reactions in the United States.  In 2012, a counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin, containing no active chemotherapy ingredient, was widely distributed in the United States.  In early 2013, a drug trafficker named Francis Ortiz Gonzalez was sentenced to prison for distributing an assortment of counterfeit, Chinese-made pharmaceuticals across America.  By the time he was arrested, he had already sold over 140,000 fake pills to customers.

Even when the U.S. system works, as it mostly does, consumers are increasingly circumventing the safeguards.  Skyrocketing health care costs in the U.S. have forced more Americans to become “medical tourists” seeking drugs, life-saving treatments and transplants abroad, sometimes in countries with rampant counterfeit drug problems and no FDA.  Bitter Pills will heighten the public’s awareness about counterfeit and substandard drugs, critically examine the historical context of the problem and discuss possible technical solutions, and help people protect themselves.  Author Muhammad H. Zaman pays special attention to the science and engineering behind both poor quality and good quality drugs, and the role of a “technological fix” for the fake drug problem.  Increasingly, fake drugs affect us all.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Mass Starvation: The History And Future Of Famine by Alex de Waal

The Blurb On The Back:

The world almost conquered famine.  Until the 1980s, this scourge killed ten million people every decade, but by the early 2000s mass starvation had all but disappeared. Today, famines are resident, driven by war, blockade, hostility to humanitarian principles and a volatile global economy.

In Mass Starvation, world-renowned expert on humanitarian crisis and response Alex de Waal provides an authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions and why they ended.  He analyses starvation as a crime and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war.  Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine, while the spread of democracy and human rights, and the ending of wars, were major factors in the near-ending of this devastating phenomenon.

Hard-hitting and deeply informed, Mass Starvation explains why man-made famine and the political decisions that could end it for good must once again become a top priority for the international community. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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