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Excerpt: 'A Question of Intent'

By David Kessler
PublicAffairs Books
492 pages

In this book, David Kessler tells for the first time the thrilling detective story of how the underdog FDA -- while safeguarding the nation's food, drugs, and blood supply -- finally decided to take on the tobacco industry and how it won. Like "A Civil Action" or "And the Band Played On," "A Question of Intent" weaves together science, law, and fascinating characters to tell an important and often unexpectedly moving story.

We follow Kessler's team of investigators as they race to find the clues that will allow the FDA to assert jurisdiction over cigarettes, while the tobacco companies and their lawyers fight back--hard. Full of insider information and drama, told with wit, and animated by its author's moral passion, "A Question of Intent" reads like a John Grisham thriller, with one exception -- everything in it is true.


Former FDA chief David Kessler discusses tobacco battle in book

Mele thought for a moment. "There's no reason why I can't tell you. It was a paper that Vic and I wrote for a journal called Psychopharmacology, but it was never published. Philip Morris made us withdraw it."

That's it, thought Gary. That's what we're looking for ...

"A year after we left Phillip Morris, we resubmitted the nicotine article to Psychopharmacology," Mele said. "we figured that after so much time we might get away with it."

"What happened?" asked Tom.

"Same thing as happened the first time. Philip Morris found out about it, and they exercised the confidentiality clause in our contracts. They threatened to sue if we tried to publish. We had to withdraw it again." After that they stopped trying.

Mele was still on the speakerphone, and Mitch leaned forward as he said, "We would very much like to see this paper, but we understand you no longer have a copy."

"That's right."

"Aside from DeNoble, do you have any idea who might have one?"

"I'm sorry, no."

Mitch tried another tack. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I imagine that like any other scientific paper, this one must have gone through a peer review process. Am I right?"

"That's right."

"Would you happen to remember the name of the journal's editor?"

There was a silence, and then Mele said, "He was called a Field Editor, and I think his name was Barry."

"First or second name?"

"Surname. That's right, it was Herbert Barry. I think he was at the University of Pittsburgh."

"Any idea what department?"

"Pharmacology, I guess. It would have to be."

Mitch turned to me and gave a silent thumbs-up. His lips formed the word, Bingo!

PublicAffairs Books
Food & Drug Administration

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