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Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age Hardcover – December 11, 2012

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Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age + Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century
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Editorial Reviews


Jonathan Kahn's approach offers an airtight analysis of the commoditization of race in pharmaceutical development, and Race in a Bottle should be of interest and deep concern to numerous audiences.

(Ruha Benjamin, Boston University)

Jonathan Kahn has produced a major and unique contribution, giving readers a 'big picture' understanding of this vital issue by integrating empirically grounded analysis of real controversies into a detailed conceptual roadmap. This is a substantial piece of scholarship and will be of interest to anyone concerned with the escalating, even geometrically expanding use of the concept of race in science and medicine.

(Troy Duster, University of California, Berkeley)

Jonathan Kahn is the undisputed Hercules Poirot of biomedicine. His unraveling of the nonsense, non-science, and complicated illogic that allowed the vasodilator BiDil to be approved by the FDA exclusively for 'black' patients is as compelling a read as any good mystery. This riveting book details what happens to scientific method when profit motive drives the marketing of a drug to the extent that its curative properties are touted as race-specific -- even when they're not. Genetic variation in humans has no correlation to the shifting historical meanings of race, yet pharmaceutical companies continue to force the square peg of social category into the round hole of scientific fact. Race in a Bottle is a brilliant deconstruction of the kinds of thought processes that make for bad policy, bad medicine, and ultimately endanger our health as a species.

(Patricia Williams, Columbia Law School)

Jonathan Kahn brilliantly exposes the stunning truth behind new race-based medicines: they are driven by market incentives, not scientific evidence. Based on meticulous research and astute analysis, Kahn constructs a gripping, devastating portrait of profit motivating the use of race in genetic research and pharmaceuticals. Race in a Bottle is absolutely essential for understanding why the myth of biological race has reemerged in genomic science and biotechnology and how it is distorting research, damaging pubic health, and undermining justice in our supposedly post-racial society.

(Dorothy Roberts, author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century)

Kahn expertly weaves together the legal and ethical ramifications of continuing to pursue racialized drugs.... No background in health sciences or genetics is necessary to understand this work.

(Library Journal)

[ Race in a Bottle] tackle[s] one of the most important concerns pertaining to race facing our society today.... Must-read material.

(New Scientist)

An extraordinary book.... I highly recommend it.

(Osagie Obasogie BioPolitical Times)

Mr. Kahn deserves credit for teasing out all the daunting complexities behind these events, including the details of genetic analysis, the perils of racial determinations, and the minutiae of patent law.

(Abigail Zuger, M.D. New York Times)

Kahn's book should be required reading. At a time when the ties between scientific researchers and the pharmaceutical industry are becoming ever more entangled, Race in a Bottle provides valuable insights into the consequences of these connections for health and health care - and, importantly, for what passes as knowledge.

(Lundy Braun GeneWatch 1900-01-00)

A powerful saga packed with engrossing twists and turns of plot and filled with food for thought and debate on the politics and health implications of racial perception.

(Midwest Book Review)

Finely crafted and written.

(Alejandra Suarez PsycCritiques)

[Kahn] seems as much at home discussing epidemiology and drug marketing as he does the history of US race relations and the intricacies of patenting.... Magnificent.

(Dr. Martyn Pickersgill The Biologist 1900-01-00)

A compelling account of a fascinating case.

(Anne Pollock Bulletin of the History of Medicine 1900-01-00)

Race in a Bottle is lucid and energetic, with fascinating and little-known evidence about clinical trials, the federal regulatory and patent systems, and the history of racial classification.... Kahn offers a heartfelt and persuasive case against allowing race to be reduced to biology.

(Jennifer L. Hochschild Journal of American History 1900-01-00)

[Kahn] skillfully uses the story of the drug BiDil... as the backdrop for examining the expanding role of race in medical genomics, even when the same science has called the existence of race into serious doubt.

(Aravinda Chakravarti Nature Medicine)

Highly recommended.

(Choice 1900-01-00)

About the Author

Jonathan Kahn is professor of law at Hamline University School of Law. He holds a Ph.D. in United States history from Cornell University and a J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Budgeting Democracy: State Building and Citizenship in America, 1897--1928.

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