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Neoliberalism and the Origins of Pharmaceutical Ignorance

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Abstract:

Science studies scholars have identified as a characteristic feature of the current intellectual landscape the use of science as an instrument to achieve political and economic aims (Proctor & Schiebinger 2008; Oreskes & Conway 2010). While these scholars of “agnotology” have successfully implicated certain practices in the production of ignorance, they have been less successful in identifying the political economy informing these efforts. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming by examining an episode that has escaped the attention of scholars of agnotology, the efforts of certain pharmaceutical corporations to mobilize against the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendments to the US Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Pharmaceutical corporations perceived the changes to pharmaceutical science brought about by the Act to be a direct threat to their profitability, and enlisted a set of economists and legal scholars associated with the neoliberal Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) to counteract these changes. This paper follows the activities of the pharmaceutical industry and their allies to construct institutions (the Center for the Study of Drug Development) and promote scientific practices (e.g., ghostwriting scientific papers) that produced their favored form of knowledge about drugs. It argues that the ideas guiding these activities developed within the MPS effort to reconstitute liberalism. It then points out that these efforts cashed out in ways similar to those identified for tobacco and climate science (the establishment of an “echo chamber” to cast doubt on the FDA’s efforts; the generation of revisionist histories about the thalidomide tragedy), often involving the same think tanks, and concludes with the suggestion that one should also view the strategies previously identified by the agnotology literature as being informed by neoliberal ideas.
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Name: 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions
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http://www.4sonline.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p511588_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Nik-Khah, Edward. "Neoliberalism and the Origins of Pharmaceutical Ignorance" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p511588_index.html>

APA Citation:

Nik-Khah, E. "Neoliberalism and the Origins of Pharmaceutical Ignorance" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p511588_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: Science studies scholars have identified as a characteristic feature of the current intellectual landscape the use of science as an instrument to achieve political and economic aims (Proctor & Schiebinger 2008; Oreskes & Conway 2010). While these scholars of “agnotology” have successfully implicated certain practices in the production of ignorance, they have been less successful in identifying the political economy informing these efforts. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming by examining an episode that has escaped the attention of scholars of agnotology, the efforts of certain pharmaceutical corporations to mobilize against the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendments to the US Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Pharmaceutical corporations perceived the changes to pharmaceutical science brought about by the Act to be a direct threat to their profitability, and enlisted a set of economists and legal scholars associated with the neoliberal Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) to counteract these changes. This paper follows the activities of the pharmaceutical industry and their allies to construct institutions (the Center for the Study of Drug Development) and promote scientific practices (e.g., ghostwriting scientific papers) that produced their favored form of knowledge about drugs. It argues that the ideas guiding these activities developed within the MPS effort to reconstitute liberalism. It then points out that these efforts cashed out in ways similar to those identified for tobacco and climate science (the establishment of an “echo chamber” to cast doubt on the FDA’s efforts; the generation of revisionist histories about the thalidomide tragedy), often involving the same think tanks, and concludes with the suggestion that one should also view the strategies previously identified by the agnotology literature as being informed by neoliberal ideas.


Similar Titles:
The Origins of Pharmaceutical Agnotology

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