ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Economy of Biomedical Technology

The growth of the biotechnology industry in India in the recent years merits a closer examination of the political economy of biomedical technology and how the epistemological advances in life sciences generated a whole sector of industry through a process of “co-production.” An elucidation of the factors of political economy also throws light on how the commonly held notions of science, scientific knowledge, and healthcare are undergoing a transformation, and the role of genomics and biotechnology in ushering in this change.

The author would like to thank his PhD supervisor Sobin George for his constant support and motivation, as also an anonymous reviewer for invaluable comments and suggestions.

The broader understanding of political economy is the study of the relations of production, and this article attempts to elucidate the political economy specific to biomedical technology (BMT). It is a political economy study in the sense of studying BMT as Kaushik Sunder Rajan (2006: 31) points out, “coming in to terms with an entire epistemic framework of how knowledge, money and capital circulate and inform the way people live their lives.” On the one hand, this article tries to point out the role and significance of BMT in the transformation of drug manufacturing and the conception of healthcare, and on the other, it tries to provide an account of the political economy factors that facilitated this role play, in terms of the actors involved and the actions they performed.

The advent of biotechnology, particularly after the completion of genome sequencing by the Human Genome Project (HGP), is one of the significant causes of a major transformation in the rapid use of genomics as a tool in drug manufacturing and many other healthcare services and in fact, it inaugurated what is called the “postgenomic”1 era. Initially, there was a lot of hope surrounding this tool and a whole new set of technological developments (such as recombinant DNA techniques, polymerase chain reaction machines, etc) and knowledge expansion (proteomics, functional genomics, etc) took place. These developments are technological in the sense that,

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Updated On : 1st Sep, 2018
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