In 2001 Hoffmann-La Roche's drug Accutane was selling in the billions worldwide as a treatment for acne. For those who suffered from extreme, scarring acne, it was something of a miraculous treatment; however evidence started to mount that for others it was a death sentence. Over the next few years, it was estimated that between 300 and 3,000 young people being prescribed Accutane since its launch had committed suicide. Dr. Doug Bremner, a professor of psychiatry and radiology at Emory University, found that the drug did have an effect on the brain likely to cause acute depression in some patients, which was not surprising as it is a molecular cousin of Vitamin A, which is known to cause depression in excessive quantities. One might think the drug company would have welcomed these findings. You might like to think again on that one. The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg is the account of what Hoffmann-La Roche did next, which was to prosecute a determined, energetic, and vindictive campaign against Dr. Bremner, designed to suppress his findings and destroy his career and livelihood. Knowing that the life of a whistleblower is rarely a happy one, why did Dr. Bremner decide to take anything that Hoffman-La Roche could throw at him rather than back down?
It could be that he had a strong belief that the public should be well informed about the side effects of drugs in order to be able to make an objective decision, but maybe there was also a more emotional one stretching back to an equally determined, energetic, and vindictive web of secrecy based on a pivotal and traumatic event in his childhood, which he was also determined to get to the bottom of. From the pen of the author of Before You Take That Pill: Why the Drug Industry May Be Bad for Your Health, this is a truly riveting and emotional listen detailing just what it costs to take on the full might of one of the largest corporations in the world.