Personalized healthcare -- or what the award-winning author
Donna Dickenson calls "Me Medicine" -- is radically transforming
our longstanding "one-size-fits-all" model. Technologies such as
direct-to-consumer genetic testing, pharmacogenetically developed
therapies in cancer care, private umbilical cord blood banking, and
neurocognitive enhancement claim to cater to an individual's
specific biological character, and, in some cases, these
technologies have shown powerful potential. Yet in others they have
produced negligible or even negative results. Whatever is behind
the rise of Me Medicine, it isn't just science. So why is Me
Medicine rapidly edging out We Medicine, and how has our commitment
to our collective health suffered as a result?
In her cogent, provocative analysis, Dickenson examines the
economic and political factors fueling the Me Medicine phenomenon
and explores how, over time, this paradigm shift in how we approach
our health might damage our individual and collective well-being.
Historically, the measures of "We Medicine," such as vaccination
and investment in public-health infrastructure, have radically
extended our life spans, and Dickenson argues we've lost sight of
that truth in our enthusiasm for "Me Medicine."
Dickenson explores how personalized medicine illustrates
capitalism's protean capacity for creating new products and markets
where none existed before -- and how this, rather than scientific
plausibility, goes a long way toward explaining private umbilical
cord blood banks and retail genetics. Drawing on the latest
findings from leading scientists, social scientists, and political
analysts, she critically examines four possible hypotheses driving
our Me Medicine moment: a growing sense of threat; a wave of
patient narcissism; corporate interests driving new niche markets;
and the dominance of personal choice as a cultural value. She
concludes with insights from political theory that emphasize a
conception of the commons and the steps we can take to restore its
value to modern biotechnology.
Subjects: Health Sciences, General Science
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