Department of Philosophy

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Ghost-Managed Medicine book coverSergio Sismondo's new book Ghost-Managed Medicine explores a spectral side of medical knowledge, based in pharmaceutical industry tactics and practices. The book is published both in paperback and as an open-access text, which means that you can download it for free at the Press's website.

Hidden from the public view, the many invisible hands of the pharmaceutical industry and its agents channel streams of drug information and knowledge from contract research organizations (that extract data from experimental bodies) to publication planners (who produce ghostwritten medical journal articles) to key opinion leaders (who are sent out to educate physicians about drugs) to patient advocacy organizations (who ventriloquize views on diseases, treatments and regulations), and onward. The goal of this ‘assemblage marketing’ is to establish conditions that make specific diagnoses, prescriptions and purchases as obvious and frequent as possible. While staying in the shadows, companies create powerful markets in which increasing numbers of people become sick and the drugs largely sell themselves.

The claims that agents of the pharmaceutical industry make are drawn from streams of knowledge that have been fed, channeled and maintained by the companies at every possible opportunity. Especially because those companies have concentrated influence and narrow interests, consumers and others should be concerned about how epistemic power is distributed – or ‘political economies of knowledge’ – and not just about truth and falsity of medical knowledge.

 

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