Picks and Pans Review: Strong Medicine

updated 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Arthur Hailey

The pharmaceutical business is big bucks and therefore ripe for Hailey, who has already had best-selling novels about cars (Wheels), air travel (Airport) and hotels (Hotel). The heroine of Strong Medicine starts out as a saleswoman for a big drug manufacturer. She marries a handsome, saintly doctor, has two children and is prescient enough to prevent her company from testing thalidomide on pregnant women. She also turns out to be a genius at marketing a worthless salve, and once she's risen to the top of the company, one of her researchers invents a nose spray, called Peptide 7, that has narcotic benefits with no bad side effects. This shabby, muddled book contains a lot of undigested research—the names of real drug firms and their products are mixed in with fictional stuff. The characters are placebos. The writing ranges from perfunctory to terrible. At one moment of high drama, a character thinks, "How little each of us knows of the sufferings of other people!" This is the kind of flaccid, Robbinsesque fiction that gives best-seller lists a bad name. (Doubleday, $16.95)

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