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

Donna Dickenson. Columbia Univ., $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-231-15974-6
“Personalized medicine” is less about scientific progress than society’s obsession with the self, argues University of London ethics professor Dickenson (Body Shopping). She admits that certain strategies might allow doctors to prescribe more suitable treatment: as opposed to the “scorched-earth campaigns” often implemented to cure cancer patients, it’s possible that genetic fingerprinting would enable physicians to tailor treatments and curb the possibility of adverse side effects. On the whole, however, Dickenson warns that this trend may trail a host of unwanted consequences. Her investigation of private vs. public umbilical cord blood banking, for example,—where cells from an umbilical cord are stored either privately, to be used by that baby or by his or her family in the future, or publically, to be used by anyone in need and whose blood type matches that of the stored cells—leads into a discussion of bloodthirsty pharmaceutical companies using marketing-speak to convince mothers to hand over their babies’ blood, which the corporations then trade internationally for beaucoup bucks. As in any good ethical debate, there are convincing arguments to be made for both sides, and Dickenson entertains them. Whether readers side with “Me Medicine” or “We Medicine” is almost beside the point—Dickenson’s mapping of this vital fork in the road is valuable. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
Ebook - 296 pages - 978-0-231-53441-3
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-231-15975-3
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