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: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...