Thursday, October 27, 2005

Funding attack novels

The LA Times recounts the curious story of how drug companies paid novelists to whip up a scare story about drug imports from Canada.
According to the proposal, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) would pay...a six-figure sum for the marketing and production of a written-to-order fictional thriller. The plotline was what Hollywood would term high-concept — a group of shadowy terrorists conspires to murder thousands of Americans by poisoning the medicine they're importing from Canada to beat U.S. drug prices. (Think "True Lies" meets the Physicians Desk Reference.)

If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because PhRMA has tried to scare state legislatures and Congress out of giving Americans access to cheap Canadian drugs by warning that terrorists might poison the imports...The authors labored on a tight 45-day deadline to produce the book, titled "The Karasik Conspiracy." Spivak says that a PhRMA marketing executive sedulously monitored the work by phone, e-mail and in person, often ordering changes in plot, characterization and tone.
Looks like Michael Crichton has spawned another new genre.

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