Dick Burack dies, wrote ‘Handbook of Prescription Drugs’

December 30, 2019 GMT

JACKSON, N.H. (AP) — Dr. Walter Richard “Dick” Burack, who wrote “The Handbook of Prescription Drugs” advocating affordable prescriptions for patients, has died. He was 93.

Burack died Sunday in hospice care in Jackson, New Hampshire, said his son, Tom Burack, former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Services.

His book was first published in 1967. The New England Journal of Medicine likened it to “David standing up to Goliath.” That year, Burack was a witness in a multi-year Congressional investigation into competitive practices in the drug industry. Burack believed that doctors were purchasing agents for their patients and owed them a duty to not impose costs for medicines that they couldn’t afford, and to not prescribe brand-name medicines for conditions for which there were already proven and cost-effective generics available.


Burack was chairman of the Massachusetts Drug Formulary Commission, which prepared a list of interchangeable drug products. In New Hampshire, he practiced internal medicine and cardiology at North Conway’s Memorial Hospital.

He later was a medical director for Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company’s steel mill in East Chicago, Indiana, and for Allied-Signal/Honeywell Inc. in Morristown, New Jersey. He retired in 1988.

His wife of 65 years, Mary, died in June.

He’s survived by his five children and 10 grandchildren.