Novel Addressing Reimportation To Debut in December
The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday examined the controversy surrounding a novel due out in December that originally was commissioned by a pharmaceutical consultant and a Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America official, but has turned into "an impossible-to-make-up public-relations disaster."
The book, called "The Karasik Conspiracy," initially was intended to detail a fictional terrorist attack on U.S. residents, in which prescription drugs purchased online from Canada are poisoned.
Mark Barondess, the consultant who initiated the book deal, proposed the project to Phoenix Books, which commissioned a ghostwriter to complete the novel. The ghostwriter collaborated with Kenin Spivak, a telecommunications executive and entrepreneur.
According to Spivak, Barondess had wanted the book to be released before congressional hearings on the reimportation of low-cost prescription drugs in fall 2005, which Barondess denies.
According to the Inquirer, Barondess abandoned the project after reading drafts of the novel that he said were uninteresting and could be misconstrued. However, the writers continued with the book and created a new subplot in which a pharmaceutical company commissioned the terrorist attack on the Canadian drug supply to frighten the U.S. about reimportation.
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA, said the organization official who collaborated with Barondess was a low-level employee and did not inform PhRMA officials about the book deal. He said, "We didn't know anything. We have credible, safety-based arguments supporting our position against importation. We're not in the business of publishing pulp fiction and Looney Tunes" (Ginsberg, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/31).