Welcome to Elizabeth Ducie
Elizabeth Ducie is an author with a history! She used to work in the pharmaceutical industry, and the shocking facts she discovered there led her to write her latest book Counterfeit!. This month she shares some of the inspiration behind her novel.
Not Always Black and White
by Elizabeth Ducie
Before I started working with pharmaceutical companies around the world, I spent ten years working in factories in the UK. We had a well-defined system of guidelines and within reason, there was sufficient finances around to buy the right equipment, pay for the appropriate tests, make sure the product was safe before it hit the market.
In fact, if I’d been just ten or fifteen years older, I would probably have realised that the situation hadn’t been like that for long. Drugs manufacture in Europe in the 1960s and early 1970s was much less well regulated. But memories are short. As far as I was concerned, the situation was black and white; there was just one way to do things; the right way.
But then I started working in the former Soviet Union and in Africa. And I learned very quickly not to judge people on first impressions or by my own standards.
When I found an engineer in Russia hanging a noticeboard on a straightened-out paperclip, I thought he was being lazy, when in fact he was being resourceful in a country where everything, including nails and screws, was in short supply.
When I saw factories using out-dated and far-from-hygienic equipment to make supposedly sterile injections, my first instinct was to recommend closure. But when I realised this would result in 40% of the injections in the country being removed from the market, I had to think of an alternative approach.
In my new book, Counterfeit!, the regulator, Suzanne Jones is shocked when an African government Minister tells us he can’t afford to worry about quality; it’s quantity of medicines that he needs. And although the main storyline in the novel is fictional, that conversation was real. And when I heard those words, I too was shocked. But gradually I realised he was not being cruel or wicked; he was merely pragmatic and doing the best he could in a terrible situation. Life isn’t always as black and white as we would like it to be.
Counterfeit! Out in July 2016: the new thriller from Elizabeth Ducie; available for order from: http://geni.us/ROFm
The world’s green. Everyone knows that.