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Me Medicine vs. We Medicine

Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Personalized healthcare—or what the award-winning author Donna Dickenson calls “Me Medicine”—is radically transforming our longstanding, “one-size-fits-all” model. Technologies such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing, pharmacogenetics in cancer care, private umbilical cord blood banking, and neurocognitive enhancement claim to cater to an individual’s specific biological character. In some cases, these technologies have shown powerful potential, yet in others, they have produced negligible or even negative results. Whatever is behind the rise of Me Medicine, it isn’t just science. So why is Me Medicine rapidly edging out We Medicine, and how has our commitment to collective health suffered as a result?

In her balanced, provocative analysis, Dickenson examines the economic and political factors fueling the Me Medicine phenomenon and explores whether it may, over time, damage our individual health as well as our collective well-being. Historically, it is the measures of “We Medicine,” such as vaccination, that have radically extended our life spans, but Dickenson argues that we’ve lost sight of that truth in our enthusiasm for “Me Medicine.” She explores how personalized medicine illustrates capitalism’s flexible talent for creating new products and markets where none existed before—and how this, rather than scientific plausibility, goes a long way toward explaining private umbilical cord blood banking and retail genetics.

Drawing on up-to-date scientific evidence, Dickenson critically examines four possible hypotheses driving our Me Medicine moment: a growing sense of threat in our society; a wave of patient narcissism; corporate interests in creating new niche markets; and the dominance of personal choice as a cultural value. She concludes with important and original insights from political theory emphasizing a conception of the commons and the steps we can take to restore its value to modern biotechnology.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 22, 2013 –  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.
Me Medicine vs. We Medicine
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  • $20.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Medical
  • Published: May 14, 2013
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 296 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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