Behind Wall Street’s Huge Gamble on Cancer Drugs

Peter Andrey Smith in Undark:

In 2011, Ahmed Hamdy, a clinical researcher, sat in a parking lot in Sunnyvale, California. On his mind: a brand-new anti-cancer drug that, true to Silicon Valley parlance, seemed poised to change the world. Only Hamdy had just been fired as chief medical officer earlier that day from a startup named Pharmacyclics.

The scene of a dejected doctor, head in his proverbial hands, opens Nathan Vardi’s “For Blood and Money: Billionaires, Biotech, and the Quest for a Blockbuster Drug” and it’s the first sign that Vardi won’t just spin the story of a phenomenally successful business out to remake an entire industry as a thrilling triumph. Nor is it a morality tale featuring a scandalously overhyped business. Rather, Hamdy comes off as an earnest diplomat whose setback reflects the grim realities of the biotech revolution and how secretive investors can make — and unmake — lifesaving drugs.

More here.