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Hearts, Minds, and Maladies: Toward a Critical Theory of the Commodification of Pharmaceuticals
Unformatted Document Text:  21 earlier this year after almost a full ten years of expansion. Some drug manufacturers that rely on patents to protect against encroachment of generic equivalents have lost and will continue to lose ground to patent expirations and the aforementioned challenges to the various loopholes utilized to prolong patent rights. Analysts indicated that pharmaceutical industry as a whole grew by less than one percent in the first quarter of 2002. (Harris 2002b.) Conclusion To recast a theoretical perspective cited at the outset, the pharmaceutical industry’s logic and practices are wedded closely to market dynamics, thus obviating its consideration and pursuit of other potentially less profitable drugs. The example of drugs developed to allegedly address emotional “disorders” discussed above is a case in point; the lucrative marketing demographic for such products coupled with the abstract nature of what they purportedly treat make for an ideally manipulative process whereby medical authority enhances exchange value. In turn, science is subordinated to market imperatives and to the heightened valorization of an anti-liberatory technological schema. Commodification further obscures a path that might otherwise place pharmaceutical research on a trajectory where drugs are developed and administered based on medical authority that is alone capable of re-exerting its autonomy over the doctor-patient relationship. The interests of the pharmaceutical industry is quite clear and has been exhibited, for example, when 39 drug companies filed suit against South Africa last year to protect its patents when the country attempted to import by any measure the most inexpensive drugs to treat its ailing HIV infected population. (Lamont 2002). This paper has sought to cast a critically informed light on the controversial social and economic process of drug advertising and the contemporary role of the pharmaceutical

Authors: Tracy, James.
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earlier this year after almost a full ten years of expansion. Some drug
manufacturers that rely on patents to protect against encroachment of generic
equivalents have lost and will continue to lose ground to patent expirations and
the aforementioned challenges to the various loopholes utilized to prolong
patent rights. Analysts indicated that pharmaceutical industry as a whole grew
by less than one percent in the first quarter of 2002. (Harris 2002b.)
Conclusion
To recast a theoretical perspective cited at the outset, the pharmaceutical
industry’s logic and practices are wedded closely to market dynamics, thus
obviating its consideration and pursuit of other potentially less profitable drugs.
The example of drugs developed to allegedly address emotional “disorders”
discussed above is a case in point; the lucrative marketing demographic for such
products coupled with the abstract nature of what they purportedly treat make
for an ideally manipulative process whereby medical authority enhances
exchange value. In turn, science is subordinated to market imperatives and to
the heightened valorization of an anti-liberatory technological schema.
Commodification further obscures a path that might otherwise place
pharmaceutical research on a trajectory where drugs are developed and
administered based on medical authority that is alone capable of re-exerting its
autonomy over the doctor-patient relationship. The interests of the
pharmaceutical industry is quite clear and has been exhibited, for example, when
39 drug companies filed suit against South Africa last year to protect its patents
when the country attempted to import by any measure the most inexpensive
drugs to treat its ailing HIV infected population. (Lamont 2002). This paper has
sought to cast a critically informed light on the controversial social and economic
process of drug advertising and the contemporary role of the pharmaceutical


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