We often hear that writers should write what they know and this is quite in evidence with Krista Tibbs’s The Neurology of Angels who really knows her subject matter. Tibbs studied neuroscience at MIT and also holds an MBA in health sector management from Duke University. She is presently employed in the biotechnology industry conducting clinical research for diseases with unmet medical needs.
With this in mind, we can readily understand how she was able to craft a fascinating realistic novel focusing on the pharmaceutical industry as she accurately depicts the dilemmas and conflicts that arise among all of the major players.
Tibbs’ principal protagonist, Galen Douglas is a neuroscientist who recently lost his fiancée to Transient forebrain ischemia, a neurological disorder that leads to strokes. As a result, Galen is determined to find a medical treatment that would combat this dreadful condition and reverse these ischemic strokes. As the story unfolds, Galen has just discovered, after a multitude of trials and failures, a drug that he feels is the solution that he names 423.
When Galen approaches his best friend, Eddy Parker, who incidentally was his late fiancée’s brother, to team up with him to start a company in order to develop this miracle drug, he is rebuffed. As Eddy states, “the thought of leaving his job to do something that he wasn’t sure he’d be good at, that depended on other people for success, and that had no security terrified him.”
Undeterred, Galen plunges ahead and tries to persuade private investors to back him with his plan. This leads him to a Grizzly Adams’ character, Amos Theriault, who is very well versed in the raising of risk capital who introduces Galen to Myesha Knight. Myesha has led finance, clinical and regulatory operations for start-ups that IPO’d for millions. Eventually, Galen and Myesha form a company called Biolex that changes the name of 423 to Lexistro.
During one of the phases of Lexistro`s trials, the FDA, due to a patient’s death pulls another promising drug for Fibromyalgia off the market. FDA employee Patricia Chen, who had done everything according to the book and supposedly didn’t overlook anything, originally approved the drug. As a result of the patient’s death, the pharmaceutical company is sued and the attorney who is in charge of defending the company is Elizabeth Rose. As we read on, it turns out that Elizabeth is a single parent whose husband recently died and whose daughter has Transient forebrain ischemia. Her life along with that of two other families including that of Galen`s friend Eddy all become intricately intertwined with Galen`s quest to find a solution to this dreaded neurological disorder. The result is a weaving together of an appealing, humane cast of characters, who, with their own agendas, feel that they have the best solution pertaining to the administration of health care which makes for some very compelling reading.
Moreover, what is a particularly important aspect of this serious novel is the author’s underlying themes of how drugs are brought to market and the accessibility of health care to those who can least afford it. Tibbs does a fine job in effectively presenting both sides of the issues leading to an insightful yarn particularly for parents who may be in the same situation as that portrayed by the families in the novel.