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Personalised Medicine, Individual Choice and the Common Good

Book description

Hippocrates famously advised doctors 'it is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has'. Yet 2,500 years later, 'personalised medicine', based on individual genetic profiling and the achievements of genomic research, claims to be revolutionary. In this book, experts from a wide range of disciplines critically examine this claim. They expand the discussion of personalised medicine beyond its usual scope to include many other highly topical issues, including: human nuclear genome transfer ('three-parent IVF'), stem cell-derived gametes, private umbilical cord blood banking, international trade in human organs, biobanks such as the US Precision Medicine Initiative, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, health and fitness self-monitoring.Although these technologies often prioritise individual choice, the original ideal of genomic research saw the human genome as 'the common heritage of humanity'. The authors question whether personalised medicine actually threatens this conception of the common good.


‘This volume illuminates the fundamental tension between the individualistic promises of personalized medicine and the demands of social justice. Moreover, it follows this moral fault-line well beyond the territory of applied human genomics, to show how it runs through biomedical practices ranging from infertility treatments, umbilical cord blood banking, and organ transplantion, all the way to how we care for people with Alzheimer Disease and use personal fitness apps to care for ourselves. In the process the volume nicely illustrates why applied genomics cannot expect to outrun this tension by reinventing itself as a ‘precision' approach to resolving public health inequities. By demonstrating the ubiquity of the ‘me/we' tension in the ways our society thinks about and pursues health, the book challenges the reader to consider personalized medicine and ‘precision healthcare' as exemplars of rather than alternatives to modern biomedicine's conventional set of ethical commitments.'

Eric Thomas Juengst - University of North Carolina School of Medicine

‘This important book Personalised Medicine, Individual Choice and the Common Good intervenes in one of the most important debates of our time - and that is access to health care. This is a global matter and it touches virtually every area of human need and desire from organ transplantation to assisted reproduction. This book confronts both our desires and demands and explores the costs of giving the people what they want.'

Michele Goodwin - University of California

'This rich collection of essays is a tribute to the generative powers and explanatory scope that co-editor Donna Dickenson's 'Me Medicine versus We Medicine' framework provides. The volume's authors and editors offer trenchant insights into the social, cultural, and market dynamics that underlie the hypertrophy of practices and products shaped by 'Me Medicine', piercing inflated promises and carefully mapping the repercussions for individual patients and for our commitments to public health. Not least, they also chart a hopeful course for future efforts to better balance individual choice and the common good.'

Marcy Darnovsky - Center for Genetics and Society

'The contributors to this volume largely offer a counter-narrative to the hype [about personalized medicine]. Assessing personalized medicine from legal, public health, human rights, feminist, technological, ethical, economic, political, and philosophical perspectives, the authors unpack its benefits and potential harms. In doing so, most of them deploy to good effect an incisive heuristic advanced several years ago by Donna Dickenson that divides health research and care into two approaches dubbed 'We Medicine' and 'Me Medicine.''

Gina Maranto Source: Biopolitical Times

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