Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease

Avery. Feb. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780593085783. $27. MED
Tom Rybinski, a 55-year-old father of three from Tennessee, was diagnosed with fungal meningitis in 2012. Dr. April Pettit of Vanderbilt University Medical Center identified the potential cause as originating from an epidural steroid injection. Rybinski was patient zero in what turned out to be the worst public health crisis caused by a pharmaceutical drug in U.S. history, as 76 facilities received contaminated drugs resulting in 793 infected people and a final death tally of over 100—the result of contaminated medication produced and distributed by the New England Compounding Company (NECC). Award-winning investigative journalist Dearen’s exploration of the tragic events takes readers on a gripping journey, with patient narratives interspersed with stories of those who work at the NECC. Dearen also examines the largely unregulated pharmaceutical industry, showing how the challenge of ensuring the safety of these drugs has escaped federal oversight, and fallen to individual states.
VERDICT Informative and engrossing, this book is a page-turner about a deadly outbreak and a reckless compounding pharmacy. Recommended for fans of true-life medical thrillers.
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