When The Karasik Conspiracy hits bookshelves this September, the plot may sound just a wee bit familiar:
a group of shadowy terrorists conspires to murder thousands of Americans by poisoning the medicine they’re importing from Canada to beat U.S. drug prices.
It sounds uncannily like the warnings giant pharmaceutical companies were sounding not long ago over Americans buying cheap generic drugs from Canada. Weird coincidence, huh?
Well, not so weird. The plotline was actually dictated by the pharmaceutical industry’s chief lobbying body, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which went shopping — armed with a six-figure offer — for writers and a publisher willing to create just such a book.
They connected with two writers and a publisher who agreed both to the plot and a 45-day writing deadline. Things were going swimmingly… apart from the writers’ bristling over the notes they were receiving from the PhRMA marketing exec in charge of the project.
But then PhRMA backed out, and — according to the writers — offered them $100,000 to never reveal the arrangement. No dice, said the writers, and rewrote the book to their own preferences.
Meanwhile, PhRMA now says the entire project was the brainchild of a junior marketing functionary and never authorized by management. Which echoes the words made famous in a (non-bought-and-paid-for) thriller series in another genre: should you be caught or killed, “the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions.”