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The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis Paperback – Sep 28 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (Sept. 28 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300126050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300126051
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.7 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,150,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

After a wave of books celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, Offit's troubling account is the first to focus on a largely forgotten aspect—one with negative repercussions 50 years later. In a nuanced examination of a complex story, Offit, a professor of pediatrics and expert in infectious diseases, relates how Cutter Laboratories, one of several pharmaceutical companies licensed to produce Salk's killed-virus vaccine, shipped many lots of vaccine containing live virus, creating a mini polio epidemic: 40,000 children became ill, 200 were permanently paralyzed, 10 died. Offit carefully examines how Cutter was and was not responsible: tests for detecting live virus at the time were simply not sensitive enough, but Cutter departed from Salk's safe production protocols. And while the company knew there was a problem, it failed to notify the government's oversight agency. Cutter faced costly lawsuits that have resulted, according to Offit, in today's vaccine crisis: shortages (think of last year's flu vaccine) due to pharmaceutical companies' unwillingness to risk testing and producing vaccines and face possible litigation. In another example of the law of unintended consequences, Offit shows how "the Cutter Incident" led Salk's vaccine to be replaced by a less safe one: Sabin's live-virus vaccine. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pointing to recent shortages of flu and several childhood-disease vaccines as well as the dearth of new vaccines, Offit says that pharmaceutical companies are staying away from vaccine research and production in droves. He lays responsibility for this lamentable situation on the outcome of a court battle now 50 years old and the subsequent snowballing of legal and legislative reactions. Beginning with a tragic 1955 error at Cutter Laboratories--one of the first companies producing the Salk polio vaccine--that caused polio in thousands, Offit maps the way the courts have handled pharmaceutical liability, the way juries have awarded damages, the federal Vaccines for Children Program and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and other influences on vaccine development. Those trends and agencies have so inflated the costs and risks relative to probable profits that vaccine production has been discouraged. Offit concludes that, because the U.S. has made risks high and profits negligible, many more children will suffer illnesses that can be prevented. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b18a89c) out of 5 stars 30 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7e3d2c) out of 5 stars Great story about all the pitfalls of research in the midst of desperation. Jan. 30 2014
By Carleen Lane - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dr. Offit has excellent books. If you are old enough to remember the abject fear during the polio epidemics, this is the book for you. We have not had a disease attacking people by such large numbers for a long time. It was a race against time and that is why the Cutter Incident happened. Too many people stirring the pot to get a vaccine in a hurry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a79196c) out of 5 stars Quite fascinating June 23 2015
By The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In 1952, the United States suffered its worst ever polio epidemic, with 58,000 people affected. The race was on to perfect a vaccine that would bring this scourge under control. In 1955, following several breakthrough, a vaccine was created, and a huge trial was conducted, involving some 800,000 children, of whom 600,000 were given the vaccine (the rest were given a placebo). However, it quickly became apparent that something had gone wrong. Before all was said and done, 40,000 children contracted polio, 200 were permanently paralyzed, and 10 died. The race was on to find out what had gone wrong.

1955 was still the dawn of the vaccine era, and there was much to be learned. However, in the aftermath of the vaccine, liability law was changed in a way that seemed minor at the time, but has resulted in a dearth of vaccines and vaccine makers. Do you want to know why 2004 witnessed a shortage of flu vaccines? Read this book and find out!

Overall, I must say that I found this book to be quite fascinating. The author does a good job of retelling what happened, and what its ramifications were and are. It seems quite ironic that something that went wrong at the dawn of vaccines is bringing the era of vaccines to a close! If you want to know how we got from that seemingly glorious era of ever new vaccines, which seemed to promise a disease free future, to day, then you must read this book. I highly recommend it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ab03438) out of 5 stars well written but lots of words Oct. 6 2013
By A. Charles - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this book for an assignment. I enjoyed most of it but the author went to so many details that I got tired of reading it for a little while. but he does a great job retelling everything that happened
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6ef18c) out of 5 stars Great read! Aug. 14 2011
By Quinn Thornton - Published on
Format: Paperback
While some may find this book too 'pro-pharma', I found this book spot-on. The public wants 100% safe, inexpensive, readily available drugs and vaccines. This book explains why this isn't going to happen--at least, not until the trial lawyers are reined in.
HASH(0x9a6ef594) out of 5 stars Amazing read for scientists and non-scientists alike. June 8 2014
By AJ. - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm a computational biology PhD student, and I've always been particularly interested in infectious diseases and pharmacology. I picked up this book because it was recommended by the professor of my senior-year virology class in college. It was an absolutely mesmerizing read, describing the beginnings of polio, how the vaccine was created, and the implications of the fallout surrounding the Cutter Incident, which caused the deaths of numerous children across the US.

Most significantly, this is an excellent book both for biologists with a strong background in microbiology, etc, and for laypeople. I gave this book to my mother, a civil engineer by training who hasn't studied biology since high school, and she enjoyed it greatly as well.

I strongly recommend this to anyone interested in biology, public health, epidemiology, and science literacy, as well as for scientists looking for gifts for their non-scientist loved ones.