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Race in a BottleThe Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age$
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Jonathan Kahn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162999

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162999.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

The Birth of BiDil

The Birth of BiDil

How a Drug Becomes “Ethnic”

(p.48) 2 The Birth of BiDil
Race in a Bottle

Sheldon Krimsky

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the origins of BiDil as a drug for everyone and considers how it became racialized primarily in response to a FDA ruling that placed in jeopardy the value of its owner's original nonracial patent. Obtaining a second, race-specific patent was driven primarily by concerns to extend the commercial life of the product. Its development depended upon the strategic appropriation of the social category of race to justify patenting and regulatory approval of a drug that purports to act on a “true” biological basis of heart failure. In the story of BiDil, race played the role of a valuable surrogate—i.e. it was presented as having no medical value in its own right but took on significance to the extent that researchers tie it to a “real” biological group through statistical correlations.

Keywords:   BiDil, FDA, nonracial patent, race-specific patent, medical value, statistical correlations

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