Thursday, August 25, 2005

Constant Gardener

I am pleased to announce that I have just finshed John Le Carre's novel The Constant Gardener, just in time for the film's release next Wednesday. Fortunately, it's supposed to be a "wide release," meaning that it should come to my local multiplex, so I don't have to go to the Big City to see it. Don't get me wrong - I love the Big City, but when you're paying a babysitter $10/hour, you don't want to spend two of those hours driving to and from your destination.

I'm not sure how the book escaped my attention before now, since I have a growing library of anti-Pharma tomes. But I enjoyed it much more than Kakutani did. But whenever a reviewer complains that a book "devolves into an altogether conventional thriller" one should remember that the reviewer reads these things for a living. I don't, so the "conventional" part simply didn't apply. I reserve that sort of criticism for my Ebert moments, where I'm on surer footing.

The Author's Note at the end makes Le Carre's contempt for Pharma clear. He urges the reader to investigate a German outfit called BUKO Pharma-Kampagne, which is an independently financed Pharma watchdog group. Not in the Public Interest vein, but rather focused on the perfidy of Pharma's dealings in the developing world. Read about them here.


Krunk said...


I noticed you read the Constant Gardener after seeing your review. I recently saw the movie, but there seems to be a major plot hole which I'm hoping you can help me answer.

How exactly were the pharmaceutical companies planning to make money? From the movie, it sounded like the companies did not want to spend more time and millions more dollars in research because they were expecting an outbreak of TB soon and research might take another 3 years which will cause them to lose their leading edge because other pharmaceutical companies were already developing TB medicine. So in order to cover the side effects, they were hiding people who died using their medicine. But if they were planning to introduce the medicine into European countries or even America, if people die from the side effects of using the medicine, you can be sure they'd be sue big time. Also, how were they planning to bypass the FDA and get the drug approved.

My friend argues that what they meant by research was that they didn't want to start from scratch, but continue testing it on humans and refining it until its ready for mass distribution to the people who could pay for the pills.

Since you've read the book, I was wondering what your opinion on this is. Thanks!


Reflective said...

Hi.. Just a thought. Three Bees was distributing free medicine in kenya and the authroities were turning a blind eye to the entire episode cause a. it was free and b. they were all probably getting a cut out of it. The medicine they were supplying was from a drug firm established in eastern Europe that was in the process of creating a drug to combat Tuberculosis but had to test it on humans (Your pal is probably right here - they didnt want to start from scartch and preferred this sickly alternative.) A process that would not be allowed in Europe. This is where the poor Kenyans came in. Most of them were already suffering from Aids and were willing to try anything to feel a tad better. In comes Three Bees with what they claim to be a wonder drug which is only being introduced for testing purposes. Three Bees got their money off the drug company and the drug comapny plans on making a tidy profit as they would be able to introduce a totally error free drug to the market on a later date. The deaths the drug had caused would not ever pose an issue as they had been covered up. Hope that helps.