Faculty Writing: On Life, Death, and the Pharmaceutical Industry

In “The Selfish Queen”, a touching personal essay published in the Kenyon Review, Joe Osmundson reflects on cancer, life, death, and the biology behind it all.

“I never imagined myself a cancer researcher. In fact, I still don’t. When I finished graduate school, I wanted to stay in New York, and I wanted to do work that I liked. A friend was starting a new lab. The lab would be in New York. He was working on DNA replication, the process through which cells copy their DNA with each division. Mistakes made in this process are mutations. Mutations cause cancer. That is the simplest version of this complicated story.”

Danya Glabau reacted to the recent EpiPen pricing controversy in a short piece touching on drug prices, corporate governance, and the financialization of biomedicine. If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more, you might consider taking Danya’s upcoming course on Drugs and Society, which will cover all these themes. 

“One thing that sets these scandals about the costs of medical care apart from previous debates (such as those surrounding the cost of health insurance in the wake of the Affordable Care Act) has been the attention paid to specificpharmaceutical companies and their specific pricing strategies. In each instance, the CEO of the company has been placed in the spotlight, portrayed as both the representative for the complex goings-on within their companies which generate such pricing strategies and an avatar for corporate greed in healthcare. Yet while blaming the CEO satisfies the forensic itch of reporters and congresspeople, it obscures some important structural issues at play in healthcare today. In particular, the methods now used to raise operating capital and bring new products to market have made healthcare CEOs increasingly beholden to a new set of actors with new expectations for company conduct and performance: shareholders, debt-holders, and various types of private investors.”

Finally, In Harper’s New Books Section, Christine Smallwood reviewed works of fiction by Ursula K. Le Guin, Mauro Javier Cardenas, and László Krasznahorkai.

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