Me Medicine vs. We Medicine: Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good

Paperback | February 23, 2016

byDonna Dickenson

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 enh...

Donna Dickenson is emeritus professor of medical ethics and humanities at the University of London and research associate at the Centre for Health, Law, and Emerging Technologies at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit, and has won the prestigious International Spinoza Lens awar...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:February 23, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231159757

ISBN - 13:9780231159753

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Table of Contents

Preface1. A Reality Check for Personalized Medicine2. "Your Genetic Information Should Be Controlled by You": Personalized Genetic Testing3. Pharmacogenetics: One Patient4. "Your Birth Day Gift": Banking Cord Blood5. Enhancement Technologies: Feeling More Like Myself6. "The Ancient, Useless, Dangerous, and Filthy Rite of Vaccination": Public Health7. Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common GoodNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Dickenson's greatest achievement in this book is that she largely succeeds in creating a coherent, compelling narrative across the five disparate case studies and that she does so incorporating insights from a range of domains including sociology, ethics, philosophy, law and biomedicine.