The Big Shilling: Ethics in the Age of Corporate Medicine

Review of White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine by Carl Elliott.

Beacon Press, 2010. 213 pages. $24.95 (Hardcover).

The commercial provenance of claims about the innovativeness and safety of medicines renders them liable to skepticism. The patina from the endlessly told and retold legends of the scientific heroism of drug companies that brought us penicillin, …


Psychoanalytic metaphors and mythical medical realities in Claude Lévi-Strauss’s contribution to medical anthropology

There are few subject areas in anthropology untouched by the seminal thought of the late Professor Claude Lévi-Strauss. Though he published only two or three essays concerned expressly with medical subject matter, his theorization in those places of the role of myth and shamanistic authority in symbolic/magical healing opened up questions with lasting significance. I would like to briefly review …


SMA Panel: Production, Distribution and Consumption of Pharmaceuticals–South Asia Focus

In the final SMA session I will summarize, the work of three of the panelists (Roger Jeffery, Ian Harper and Stefan Ecks) adds to a long-term collective project at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The project is entitled “Tracing Pharmaceuticals in South Asia,” and its aim is to “provide …


SMA: Perspectives from Contemporary Japan

On Saturday, September 26, a group of younger Japanese researchers, joined by veteran Japan scholars Susan Orpett Long and discussant William Kelly, presented papers in a session titled “Emerging Alterities in Medicine: Perspectives from Contemporary Japan.” The session’s title distracted from a substantial unity surrounding the expanding personal and social experience of biotechnology in Japan as it stands on …


"Mind Games": A Session Presented at the SMA at Yale

Presentations at the Society for Medical Anthropology Conference at Yale (September 24-27, 2009) offered a cross section of work being done in many separate fields of interest. In keeping with my interests in pharmaceuticals, Japan, and mental health, I attended three excellent sessions that I would like to briefly summarize for people who could not attend. Here’s an outline of …


Pharmaceutical Branding is Just Getting Started (Part II/The Sky’s the Limit)

This article is part of the series:

In my previous post on this subject, I pointed out that branding has become more important in the pharmaceutical industry. Implicit to the discussion was the common sense understanding that it is products, and in particular blockbuster drugs, that are branded. This is true, and I will say more in future posts about brand management strategies associated with specific …