Sick Money

The Truth About the Global Pharmaceutical Industry

Billy Kenber

Sick Money by Billy Kenber (Hardback ISBN 9781838850258) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook, Downloadable audio

An urgent call to build a new model for the pharmaceutical industry, from the multi-award-winning Times journalist

The pharmaceutical industry is broken. From the American hedge fund manager who hiked the price of an AIDS pill from $17.50 to $750 overnight to the children’s cancer drugs left intentionally to expire in a Spanish warehouse, the signs of this dysfunction are all around. A system that was designed to drive innovation and patient care has been relentlessly distorted to drive up profits.

Medicines have become nothing more than financial assets. The focus of drug research, how drugs are priced and who has access to them is now dictated by shareholder value, not the good of the public. Drug companies fixated on ever-higher profits are being fined for bribing doctors and striking secret price-gouging deals, while patients desperate for life-saving medicines are driven to the black market in search of drugs that national health services can’t afford.

Sick Money argues that the way medicines are developed and paid for is no longer working. Unless we take action we risk a dramatic decline in the pace of drug development and a future in which medicines are only available to the highest bidder. In this book investigative journalist Billy Kenber offers a diagnosis of an industry in crisis and a prescription for how we can fight back.


“Billy Kenber is one of the most promising young journalists in the land, and he has, unsurprisingly, produced a compelling debut which surprises, entertains and inspires dismay. An essential read”
Sathnam Sanghera

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“Billy Kenber does a fantastic job, pulling apart the origins of the drugs industry and machinations of its shameless profiteers with surgical precision … it’s quite a ride. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the drugs industry really does its business”
Jacques Peretti

“A forensic and very readable account of the reforms needed to make the pharmaceutical industry serve the public good as well as private profit … Kenber’s ground-breaking investigative reporting has … resulted in a change in the law in the UK, intervention by regulators, cuts in the price of some medicines, life-changing benefits for patients, savings of hundreds of millions of pounds for the NHS and record fines for drug firms”
Andrew Grice

”[Sick Money] distinguishes itself from many other books by its investigative power and meticulous clarity”
the Times

“Powerful, gripping and rigorous, this book couldn’t have come at a better time. Never has it been so important to delve into the tangled web behind the medicines and vaccines we all rely on. With years of research and reporting under his belt, Kenber is the perfect person to take us on this fascinating journey”
Maeve Mcclenaghan, Author Of No Fixed Abode


Billy Kenber

Billy Kenber is an investigative journalist at The Times and has worked at the newspaper since 2010. He has won several accolades including prizes at the UK Press Awards, the British Journalism Awards and two prizes from the Medical Journalists’ Association including the 2017 award for Outstanding Contribution to Health or Medical Journalism. In 2013 he won the Laurence Stern Fellowship and worked for the Washington Post for three months. He lives in London.

@billykenber