Author:Stuart Hogarth (King's College London)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses a number of trends in the diagnostics industry which are worthy of sociological analysis and which collectively might be understood as constituting a form of pharmaceuticalisation.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years pharmaceuticalisation has emerged as an alternative to medicalisation in medical sociology (and in STS work on biomedicine), shifting attention from the collective authority of the medical profession to the corporate power of the pharmaceutical industry. In the light of this it is perhaps puzzling that the nascent sociology of diagnosis has thus far paid little attention to the influence of the diagnostics industry. In an attempt to begin to address that lacuna, this paper discusses a number of trends in the diagnostics industry which are worthy of sociological analysis and which collectively might be understood as themselves constituting a form of pharmaceuticalisation. These trends include: the adoption of business models and commercial strategies characteristic of big pharma (including consumer advertising and the search for what are termed 'blockbuster diagnostics'); the inter-penetration of the two industries and their regulatory regimes through pharmacogenomics; and new regulatory demands for the more systematic collection of evidence on safety and effectiveness. This paper will explore the relationship between the pharmaceuticalisation of the diagnostics industry and the emergence of the molecular diagnostics sector and ask whether these trends mark the emergence of a discrete niche within the IVD industry or the beginning of a fundamental socio-technical transition.
STS for pharmaceuticals and public health policy