Barry Werth: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Barry Werth

Award-winning journalist, acclaimed historian, and author of The Billion Dollar Molecule, Damages, and The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma

Acclaimed journalist and author Barry Werth draws upon unprecedented inside reporting spanning 25 years to provide a ground-breaking close-up of the pharmaceutical industry’s inner workings. In a stirring tale of epic ambition and bold science, high-stakes competition and Wall Street, Werth pulls back the curtain on the dramatic, futuristic new business of personalized medicine. His hailed two-volume history of Vertex, an upstart 21st century drug company determined to challenge industry giants and transform health care, is a touchstone for understanding American innovation.

Werth started writing about Vertex and its charismatic founder, Joshua Boger, during the darkest years of the AIDS crisis. His first book, The Billion Dollar Molecule, a classic of science and business journalism, recorded the company’s tumultuous early days as a cash-starved start-up. In 1989, Boger and his group defected from Merck when Merck was the most admired corporation in America because they believed it had lost its ability to deliver breakthrough medicines. In The Antidote Werth returns to tell the riveting story of Vertex’s endurance and eventual success, capturing the full scope of the ferocious but indispensible world it inhabits.

Werth can speak intimately about the struggles in biotech. As the industry comes of age, his chronicle helps illuminate the challenges ahead for innovative, technology-driven health care. But The Antidote powerfully explores what it takes to build a corporate vision from scratch, in a business that deeply touches everyone’s life. Werth’s themes are far-reaching. His six books of narrative non-fiction cover a panorama of American subjects and issues. In Damages, he explores the collision of law and medicine through the struggles of one family and their epic seven-year lawsuit. His award-winning biography of the pioneering Americanist Newton Arvin, The Scarlet Professor, examines a morals scandal at an elite women’s college in 1960. In 31 Days, he takes readers deep inside the White House during the month after Watergate brought down Richard Nixon, when Gerald Ford stepped in and all power was in play. His Banquet at Delmonico’s tells the story of how the gospel of progress and “survival of the fittest” came to dominate the elite thinking of the Gilded Age.

By bridging journalism and history, Werth brings a fresh and compelling perspective to his subjects, with lessons for a wide range of audiences. By diving deeply inside the world of commercial medicine, he has witnessed the intersection of science, money and society as few authors and speakers have. His quarter-century involvement with Vertex positions him as a unique outside observer of an unseen world that has tremendous implications for the future.

Werth has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, MIT Technology Review, Smithsonian, Outside, GQ and numerous other publications. He has taught the art and skill of long-form narrative journalism at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and Boston University. He lives in Northampton, MA with his wife Kathy Goos.

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