A Book Worth Reading: Deadly Monopolies by Harriet Washington

I recently interviewed Harriet Washington, a brilliant scholar and writer whose most recent book is Deadly Monopolies (Doubleday, 2011), a hard-hitting exposé where she insightfully explores several issues certain to have a dramatic impact on the future of healthcare and human freedom.

The interview will be published in the March 2012 issue of Pathways, a Washington, DC, community quarterly, and I’ll be posting it in sections over the next few days on Redwood HealthSpeak.

In this interview, Washington discusses the role of patents, particularly those held by profit-making private corporations on drugs, plants and the human genetic code; the drastic changes over the past generation in relationships between universities and corporations; the erosion of informed consent; and what she calls biocolonialism, including medical research by Western and Japanese corporations in developing nations that abandons the hard-won patient protections available to people in developed nations.

Washington’s earlier book, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2007 PEN Oakland Award, and the 2007 American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. 

She has been a fellow in medical ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.