Racialization of drugs mobilizes prior conceptions of identity

Oct 23, 2008

If we want to fully understand the allure of pharmaceuticals, we need to look beyond both medical efficacy and profit motives. A new study in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics shows that when we use claims about drugs in arguments about racial identity, the meaning of both the pharmaceuticals and of race remain unsettled.

Anne Pollock, Ph.D. of the Georgia Institute of Technology tracks the intersection of race and a particular generic drug, thiazide. Not focusing on marketing and efficacy but rather drawing on social theory, the article describes and analyzes an encounter at an African American Studies Colloquium that involved economist Roland Fryer and literary theorist Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who use thiazide as a nexus through which to talk about ideologies of race. The identification between race and thiazide are unstable, diverse, and ambiguous, even among two African American Harvard professors.

Pollock then contextualizes that encounter in larger debates around race and thiazide to further show the complicated nature of pharmaceutical meaning making. Although pharmaceuticals can seem to rely on scientific data and marketing for their power, they are, in fact, also subject to claims on many more levels.

On the one hand, thiazide has been called upon in a recent resurgence of an argument relating selection pressures in Atlantic slavery to cardiovascular disease in African Americans. This claim suggests the drug could be key to solving racial morbidity and mortality disparities.

At the same time, thiazide has been touted by the National Institutes of Health as the best antihypertensive medicine for everyone, especially Blacks.

The extent to which a drug is taken – or talked about – is related to commodity properties that exceed the physiological and economic. Links between race and pharmaceuticals can be both unstable and generative even when the drug in question is old and generic.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: AMA: avoiding distress in medical school

Related Stories

Male Java sparrows may 'drum' to their songs

3 hours ago

Male Java sparrows may coordinate their bill-clicking sounds with the notes of their song, according to a study published May 20, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Masayo Soma and Chihiro Mori f ...

Robotic sonar system inspired by bats

4 hours ago

Engineers at Virginia Tech have taken the first steps toward building a novel dynamic sonar system inspired by horseshoe bats that could be more efficient and take up less space than current man-made sonar ...

Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo

4 hours ago

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. ...

Recommended for you

AMA: avoiding distress in medical school

19 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Understanding the key drivers underlying medical students' distress can help address the issues and enhance student well-being, according to an article published by the American Medical Association.

European court to rule on right-to-die case

May 21, 2015

Europe's human rights court will on June 5 rule on whether a man in a vegetative state can be taken off life support, a case that has ignited a fierce euthanasia debate in France, a spokesman said Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.