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The Story of Taxol

The Story of Taxol
Nature and Politics in the Pursuit of an Anti-Cancer Drug

$66.95 (G)

  • Authors:
  • Jordan Goodman, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
  • Vivien Walsh, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
  • Date Published: March 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521561235

$ 66.95 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Taxol is arguably the most celebrated, talked about, and controversial natural product in recent years. Celebrated because of its efficacy as an anticancer drug and because its discovery has provided powerful support for policies concerned with biodiversity. Talked about because in the early 1990s the American public was bombarded with news reports about the molecule and its host, the slow-growing Pacific yew tree. Controversial because the drug and the yew tree became embroiled in several sensitive political issues with broad public policy implications. Taxol has revolutionized the treatment options for patients with advanced forms of breast and ovarian cancers and some types of leukemia; it shows promise for treating AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. It is the best-selling anticancer drug ever, with world sales of $1.2 billion in 1998 and expected to grow. Goodman and Walsh's careful study of how taxol was discovered, researched, and brought to market documents the complexities and conflicting interests in the ongoing process to find effective treatments. From a broader perspective, The Story of Taxol uses the discovery and development of taxol as a paradigm to address current issues in the history and sociology of science and medicine. Jordan Goodman is a Senior Lecturer in History at the Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology. He has written on subjects as varied as the history of medicine and economic history for journal articles and in edited volumes. Goodman's previous books include Tobacco in History (Routledge, 1994) and Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology (Routledge, 1995). Vivien Walsh is Reader in Technology Management at the Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology. She has been researching the pharmaceutical and chemical industry for years and is currently working on globalization of innovative activity in the face of technological and organizational changes in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and agro-food industries. Walsh has been a consultant to the European Commission and to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    • A rich analysis of the most talked-about anti-cancer drug of recent years
    • Provides a fascinating account of nature's secrets and the difficulty of discovering them
    • Brings to life the politics of public property and private interests
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...well written and well documented. This book is recommended to anyone connected with cancer research, whether health professionals or patient. I would also highly recommend this book to students, not only in history, but in pharmacy, medicine, and nursing. It certainly will help build an understanding of the complexity required to bring a life-saving medicine to those who use it." Pharmacy in History

    " extremely timely and interesting book; a fascinating history...I learned a great deal from this book, and I strongly recommend it." American Journal of Sociology

    "[The authors'] detailed, well-researched account will be enjoyed by historians and scientists interested in the drug-development process and its many potential pitfalls." Science

    "Jordan Goodman and Vivien Walsh have written a well-researched, careful account... At the same time, they provide an important exemplification of twentieth century public-private research relationships, the privatization of natural resources, and the backstage political activities involved in determining what is in the `best interest' of the public." Isis

    "It is a fascinating, well-written, and compelling history." Rima D. Apple, Journal of American History

    "...insightful....This book is suited for practically all researchers, faculty, and professionals whatever their personal interests, since it contains something for nearly everyone: scientific fact, political strategy, business considerations, and social questions." Choice

    "It is carefully researched and detailed, and as someone who was at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) during part of the development of Taxol, I found it factually accurate." New England Journal of Medicine

    "[Goodman and Walsh] have written a thorough account of the discovery, development, and politics of the cancer drug taxol...[T]his is a succinct study and covers its subject from many viewpoints...To some, this story will be a wonderful example of how people working together can discover an important medicine; to others, it might be a good example of how tax money is used to subsidize big business. An excellent book." Library Journal

    "A very readable and reliable account of the development of Taxol through 1992." Chemical & Engineering News

    "The story of Taxol is a significant one that has received little attention from historians, and this book fills a gap in the literature. It is carefully researched, drawing upon a host of published and unpublished sources, as well as interviews with some of the key excellent book. It should be of interest not onlt to historians of science and medicine, but also to environmental and business historians, and in fact to anyone who would like to learn more about the development of this important therapeutic agent." American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2001
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521561235
    • length: 298 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Agents:
    1. Cancer chemotherapy: plant knowledge and practice
    Part II. Practices:
    2. Act I:
    3. Act II:
    4. Act III:
    Part III. Controversies:
    5. The politics of exclusivity and the business of taxol
    6. The political life (and death) of Taxus Brevifolia
    References and bibliography

  • Authors

    Jordan Goodman, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology

    Vivien Walsh, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology

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