Biomedical Innovation and the Politics of Scientific Knowledge: A case study of Gardasil

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Date
2008
Authors
Clark, Aleia Yvonne
Advisor
Mamo, Laura
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Abstract
Vaccine development represents a special case where historically, public health priorities are central. Trends of privatization have increased the role played by pharmaceutical and biotech companies in developing new biomedical technologies. As the innovative science behind new medical technologies moves into pharmaceutical laboratories and biotech companies, the "logics of action" that pattern knowledge production shift. This project explores how different logics of action based on commercial investment and public good shaped the development of Gardasil, a new vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The study found that both the logics of public good and commercial profit significantly shaped the final product. The study also found that variations in the definition of public good allowed for the settlement of tensions between good and profit. The findings have implications for the future of vaccine development, as well as for the analysis of biomedical innovation in our contemporary political economy.
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