Book ID: CBB001552637

Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine (2014)


Greene, Jeremy Alan (Author)

Johns Hopkins University Press

Publication Date: 2014
Physical Details: xii + 354 pp.; ill.
Language: English

Generic drugs are now familiar objects in clinics, drugstores, and households around the world. We like to think of these tablets, capsules, patches, and ointments as interchangeable with their brand-name counterparts: why pay more for the same? And yet they are not quite the same. They differ in price, in place of origin, in color, shape, and size, in the dyes, binders, fillers, and coatings used, and in a host of other ways. Claims of generic equivalence, as physician-historian Jeremy Greene reveals, are never based on being identical to the original drug in all respects, but in being the same in all ways that matter. How do we know what parts of a pill really matter? Decisions about which differences are significant and which are trivial in the world of therapeutics are not resolved by simple chemical or biological assays alone. Questions of therapeutic similarity and difference are also always questions of pharmacology and physiology, of economics and politics, of morality and belief. Greene chronicles the social, political, and cultural history of generic drugs, narrating the evolution of the generic drug industry from a set of mid-twentieth-century "schlock houses" and "counterfeiters" into an agile and surprisingly powerful set of multinational corporations in the early twenty-first century. The substitution of bioequivalent generic drugs for more expensive brand-name products is a rare success story in a field of failed attempts to deliver equivalent value in health care for a lower price. Greene's history sheds light on the controversies shadowing the success of generics: problems with the generalizability of medical knowledge, the fragile role of science in public policy, and the increasing role of industry, marketing, and consumer logics in late-twentieth-century and early twenty-first century health care.

Reviewed By

Review Scott H. Podolsky (2015) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (pp. 90-93). unapi

Review PharmD, PhD Duane M. Kirking (2018) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Pharmacy in History (pp. 99-100). unapi

Review Daemmrich, Arthur (October 2019) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Technology and Culture (pp. 1129-1131). unapi

Review Nils Kessel (2016) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 892-893). unapi

Review Carsten Timmermann (2015) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (pp. 119-120). unapi

Review Tobbell, Dominique Avril (2015) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Bulletin of the History of Medicine (pp. 842-844). unapi

Review Rasmussen, Nicolas (2015) Review of "Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (pp. 473-476). unapi

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Srinivas, Smita; (2012)
Market Menagerie: Health and Development in Late Industrial States (/isis/citation/CBB001213400/)

Book Nattrass, Nicoli; (2012)
The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back (/isis/citation/CBB001252724/)

Book Stern, Alexandra; (2012)
Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America (/isis/citation/CBB001213529/)

Article Bittencourt, Silvia Cardoso; Caponi, Sandra; Maluf, Sonia; (2013)
Farmacologia no século XX: a ciência dos medicamentos a partir da análise do livro de Goodman e Gilman (/isis/citation/CBB001420651/)

Book Miriam Solomon; (2015)
Making Medical Knowledge (/isis/citation/CBB474491442/)

Article Alessandro Demichelis; (2018)
Understanding vaccine hesitancy: Cognitive biases and the role of trust (/isis/citation/CBB568141355/)

Article Bragesjö, Fredrik; Hallberg, Margareta; (2011)
Dilemmas of a Vitalizing Vaccine Market: Lessons from the MMR Vaccine/Autism Debate (/isis/citation/CBB001034622/)

Chapter Stephens, Elizabeth; (2011)
Inventing the Healthy Body: The Use of Popular Medical Discourses in Public Anatomical Exhibitions (/isis/citation/CBB001200132/)

Article Jauho, Mikko; Niva, Mari; (2013)
Lay Understandings of Functional Foods as Hybrids of Food and Medicine (/isis/citation/CBB001320900/)

Article Bunn, Stephanie J.; (2013)
Water as a Vital Substance in Post-Socialist Kyrgyzstan (/isis/citation/CBB001201778/)

Book Rosenberg, Charles E.; (2003)
Right Living: An Anglo-American Tradition of Self-Help Medicine and Hygiene (/isis/citation/CBB000320319/)

Book Sally Frampton; Jennifer Wallis; (2020)
Reading the Nineteenth-Century Medical Journal (/isis/citation/CBB095014079/)

Book Au, Sokhieng; (2011)
Mixed Medicines: Health and Culture in French Colonial Cambodia (/isis/citation/CBB001250397/)

Article Willis, Martin; Waddington, Keir; Marsden, Richard; (2013)
Imaginary Investments: Illness Narratives beyond the Gaze (/isis/citation/CBB001320815/)

Book Brian Deer; (2020)
The Doctor Who Fooled the World: Andrew Wakefield’s War on Vaccines (/isis/citation/CBB311227433/)

Article Geissler, P. W.; (2013)
Public Secrets in Public Health: Knowing Not to Know while Making Scientific Knowledge (/isis/citation/CBB001320698/)

Article Ren, Jie; Peters, Hans Peter; Allgaier, Joachim; Lo, Yin-Yueh; (2014)
Similar Challenges but Different Responses: Media Coverage of Measles Vaccination in the UK and China (/isis/citation/CBB001420070/)

Authors & Contributors
Rosenberg, Charles E.
Bragesjö, Fredrik
Hallberg, Margareta
Stephens, Elizabeth
Bunn, Stephanie J.
Srinivas, Smita
Public Understanding of Science
Science in Context
American Ethnologist
Journal of Literature and Science
Food, Culture and Society
Johns Hopkins University Press
Stanford Economics and Finance
University of Chicago Press
Columbia University Press
Scribe Publications
Public understanding of medicine
Vaccines; vaccination
Pharmaceutical industry
Public health
Beckett, Samuel
Foucault, Michel
Wakefield, Andrew
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
20th century
United States
South Africa
Great Britain
Soviet Union

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment