On one level, this book tells a very specific story: the durable preoccupations
with di√erence at intersections of race, heart disease, and pharmaceuticals in
the United States over the course of a century. That itself is a broad and vital
account, and the argument and approach of the book are also relevant well
beyond those spheres. Here, I will underscore the value of this mode of atten-
tion to medicating race, for both race and medicine and for medical ethics.
Too often, engagement with topics of race and medicine uses a grammar of
lamentation, adopting an aggrieved subject position and mourning the racial-
ization perpetuated by pharmaceuticalized medicine. Paradoxically, part of the
problem with this approach is that it is too comfortable. Medicine appears far
more stable than it is, and the analyst far less implicated. I argue that accounts
of race and medicine, and of ethics in medicine, should endeavor to leave the
terrain more unsettled than it was when we found it. This requires deep en-
gagement with the world as it is, resisting quandary ethics and engaging in
ethical noninnocence.
Consider one final vignette. It was the end of March 2007, almost two years
after the fda approval of BiDil for heart failure in ‘‘self-identified black pa-
tients.’’ The scene was the second annual conference of the mit Center for the
Study of Diversity in Science Technology and Medicine, which I had helped to
organize. This conference followed up on the previous year’s theme of ‘‘Race,
Pharmaceuticals, and Medical Technology,’’ and marked something of a shift,
now focusing on ‘‘The Business of Race and
Science.’’∞ After a morning dedi-
cated to such topics as population genetics and genetic ancestry testing, and a
break for lunch, it was my turn to moderate the panel ‘‘Debating Race in
The three papers were rather disparate—one on the scope of genetic cor-
relations by race, another on physicians’ responses to race-based therapeutics,
and a third on race in Alzheimer’s genetics research. After the panel’s presen-
tations, I called on questions from the audience. The first several questions
came from academics I knew and could call on by name, and were the regular
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