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Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health (Experimental Futures) Paperback – September 3, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Drugs for Life is simply superb, a major accomplishment in the study of pharmaceuticals and their expanding relation to life itself. There is no recent scholarly work that attempts or accomplishes what Joseph Dumit does here, tackling the relation between big pharma and clinical epistemology in such a comprehensive and satisfying way. He deftly links critical debates across the life and human sciences, making an important and compelling argument on a matter central to contemporary public debate."—Lawrence Cohen, author of No Aging in India: Alzheimer’s, the Bad Family, and Other Modern Things


"Drugs for Life shocks the reader into seeing health, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceutical industry and drug research for what they are from a cultural standpoint: a new framing of the future world for all of us. And that future is now and troubling and transformative of human conditions. A remarkable contribution that will perturb and disturb professional and general readers."—Arthur Kleinman, coeditor of Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices


"In this provocative and important book, Joseph Dumit brings a new approach to bear on critiques of the pharmaceutical industry and U.S. healthcare. He marshals ethnographic research among drug company executives and marketing strategists, along with the analysis of scientific and popular representations of their products, showing how consumers have been tutored into a proactive stance toward health. Over the past few decades, we have come to live by 'the numbers' and 'risk factors' that make embracing lifelong pharmaceutical regimes seem like common sense. But is it? Dumit explores the pharmaceuticalization of American culture and consciousness with a light, accessible touch that belies the depth of his knowledge."—Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America


“A rich and valuable contribution to literature on medical ethics, cultural studies, and the sociology of medicine. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”
(A. W. Klink Choice)

Drugs for Life is a synthetic achievement. It captures a web of phenomena occurring in disparate spaces—clinical research, treatment guidelines, advertising practices, biotechnology investments—and shows how they interact to reconfigure our intuitive, personal sense of what health is and what living requires. For this reason, it is destined to enter the canon of science and technology studies.”
 
(Helena Hansen American Ethnologist)

“Although its topic is an abstract one, much of Drugs for Life consists of insightful readings of advertisements, of statements by marketers and of patients' accounts. Dumit has pulled together a tremendous number of telling arguments and phrases, and can be at his best when reading them.”
(Sergio Sismondo Times Higher Education)

“Thought-provoking and chilling. . . . All registered nurses would . . . benefit from his analysis."
(Lucia Hwang National Nurse)

“Dumit examines the role played by the pharmaceutical industry and the rise of evidence-based medicine, which have redefined the borders between sickness and health along statistical lines. Drugs for Life is recommended for anyone who has ever been told they're at risk for illness.”
(Matt Savelli Chemical Heritage)

Drugs for Life is a brilliant and provocative analysis of the new cultural and business logics of science, medicalization, and the drug industry.”
(Kristin Peterson Somatosphere)

Drugs for Life is one of the best among many recent works on the pharmaceutical industry, and certainly the most sophisticated by the standards of science and technology studies.”
(Alasdair McMillan Science as Culture)

"Drugs for Life is a welcome addition to the fields of medical sociology, medical anthropology, the history of medicine, and STS more broadly. . . . Drugs for Life is provocative beyond the empirical area of pharmaceuticals. For example, scholars who research nondrug substances and materials will find in Drugs for Life a blueprint for success in the pharmaceutical industry that is provocative for understanding why not all products have this degree of ubiquity in the prevention of illness. Scholars who research medical equipment, devices, or tissues that exhibit druglike characteristics will find this work provocative."
(Krista Sigurdson East Asian Science, Technology, and Society)

"[T]his book or one of its kind is an important read for those involved in the care of patients or the education of medical students or residents."
(William Ventres Family Medicine 2013-10-01)

About the Author

Joseph Dumit is Director of Science and Technology Studies and Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity and editor, with Regula Valérie Burri, of Biomedicine as Culture: Instrumental Practices, Technoscientific Knowledge, and New Modes of Life.

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Product Details

  • Series: Experimental Futures
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1 edition (September 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822348713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822348719
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anthropologist Joe Dumit has written one of the most important and radical (going to the heart of things) books about health, marketing, medical research, and the pharmaceutical industry in recent decades. It needs to be on the shelf of every follower of Angell, Abramson, Avorn, Greene, Cassels, Welch, Hadler, Healy, Brody, Conrad, Goldacre and all the other doctors, journalists and social scientists broadcasting wake-up calls about how our current social perspective on health has been hijacked and turned on its head. Even better than many of the others, Dumit explains how it came about that we no longer think of health as freedom from treatment, but think of health as getting treatment for asymptomatic risks that are somehow endangering our future. This new paradigm of health - permanent risk and permanent treatment - is a catastrophe, because we are, always, perpetually, at risk of dying, and therefore if research (by the ever-growing pharmaceutical industry) is directed at uncovering risks, it will always succeed and there will be no future but more life-long pill regimens, more self-diagnoses, more screens, more tests, more side effects, more false results, more expense, and much much more worry. And for what - precious little gain in longevity, symptom-free days, or genuine understanding of our minds and bodies. Seeing the obvious is the first step towards resistance and change, but we are deep in the pocket and it will be a long road out. Make your book club read this book!
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Format: Paperback
Wow was the book an eye opener. I always knew that pharmaceutical companies were for profit and have their own agendas but this book really shows how these companies are changing the way we look at health today. Dumit has really done his research in a wide variety of areas to give the reader an overall view of how pharmaceutical companies are working through marketing, clinical trials, and trying to get directly to patients to get people to take more pills. The part that bothered me the most was how Dumit shows that these companies seem to never consider what would be the best treatment but base every decision on how to get the most profit. It is a scary look at our healthcare system today and the constant push by these companies for more people to take more pills for as long as they can, even when there are side effects.

I will say that I am not a science person so I found reading this book to be difficult at times. I struggled with some of the concepts Dumit talked about and found myself skimming through some parts. Dumit does make his points clear though about how their has been a shift in how we look at health during the last several years. I know that the next time I go to see my doctor I am going to be discussing with her the things I learned in this book and I hope it will help me to make better decisions about my own health in the future. I highly recommend this book to everyone, it is really an important subject that effects everyone sooner or later.
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Format: Paperback
In short, this is an absolutely essential book that holds relevance to not only the medical and pharmacological issues at hand but also broader questions about the commercialization of science in society. I have not encountered a better book to explain the medical predicament in which we find ourselves today.

Dumit employs engaging examples and thought-provoking analysis. The text is indeed theoretically rich but could be approached by non-experts as well due to its readability.
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A well written book that is a scholarly work. That says volumes for me. The book describes the culture of creating an artificial consensus about the entire structure of medicine, based on what pharmaceutical companies want to sell.
Most devastating line in the book was the author's report of a pharmaceutical marketing executive stating the goal is to have everyone on at least 5 drugs for their lifetime. Thus the title: "Drugs for LIfe". We are not imagining that there is increasing influence on medical practice from big pharma. It's a feature, not a bug in their plans.
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