Race in a Bottle:The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age

. December 2012. 336p. 978-0-23116-298-2.
Jonathan Kahn, (law, Hamline Univ. Sch. of Law) has expanded is 2007 Scientific American article, “Race in a Bottle” (Aug2007, Vol. 297 Issue 2, p40-45, DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0807-40) into this full length exploration of economics and ethics at the cross roads of biomedicine and race. Using the heart medication BiDil as an example (marketed specifically for African Americans), Kahn discusses how race is a commodity, a new sales point for pharmaceutical companies. However, as scientific research into the human genome advances, developing and marketing drugs from a racial perspective becomes moot; the genomic differences between races are not evident. Kahn expertly weaves together the legal and ethical ramifications of continuing to pursue racialized drugs. But he does not just report out; Kahn also writes up his conclusions and recommendations, demonstrating a long interaction with this topic.
VERDICT Recommended for lay scientists, readers of popular magazines like Scientific American or New Scientist. Although no background in the health sciences or genetics is necessary to understand this work, readers already familiar with terms like “genome” or “pharmacogenomics” would most enjoy this book.
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