American Journal of Bioethics.

Race, Pharmacogenomics, and Marketing: Putting BiDil in Context

This article endeavors to place into context recent developments surrounding the United States Food and Drug Administration recent approval of BiDil� (isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride) (NitroMed, Inc., Lexington, MA) as the first ever race-specific drug?in this case to treat heart failure in African Americans. It focuses in particular on both commercial incentives and statistical manipulation of medical data as framing the drive to bring BiDil to market as a race-specific drug. In current discourse about pharmacogenomics, targeting a racial audience is perceived as necessary because at this point the technology and resources do not exist to scan efficiently every individual’s genetic profile. The article argues that medical researchers may say they are using race as a surrogate to target biology in drug development, but corporations are using biology as a surrogate to target race in drug marketing. Pharmacogenomics may hold great promise, but on our way to that Promised Land, it is imperative to review such short cuts with a critical eye.

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Volume 6, Issue 5
September 2006