Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and Its Consequences

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and Its Consequences

Article excerpt

Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and Its Consequences By Dominique A. Tobbell (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012) (310 pages, $65.00 hardcover; $26.95 paper)

In the years after World War II, the American economy soared to heights previously unknown. At the same time, several industries forged partnerships with universities to support those schools that increasingly oriented themselves toward much more research-intensive missions. The pharmaceutical industry played a major role in both of these transformations, while at the same time helping to reconfigure definitions of health and disease and change the contours of American medical, nursing, and pharmacy practice. As a result of the pharmaceutical industry's centrality to the postwar era, Pills, Poiver, and Policy provides essential content for anyone interested in the history of 20th century American health care.

Despite the complexity of the topic, the book is a compelling read, well-organized, and clearly and engagingly written. Tobbell begins with a thoughtful Introduction that is to be particularly commended for the section on "Why History Matters," a well-argued, but not overdrawn, case for history's importance to contemporary policy that serves as a map for anyone interested in thinking about history with an eye to current day events. Using a rich trove of industry, university, and governmental archival sources, the main body of the book is broken down into two main sections encompassing the period between the 1940s and the 1970s. Part I, "Forging Pharmaceutical Relations," describes and analyzes the construction of networks between industry, scientists, physicians, and government and the many ways in which these relationships benefitted everyone involved. Part II, "Allied Against Reform," explores the way in which these alliances-nested in Cold War politics, industry fears of new limits on free enterprise, the American medical establishment's enduring antipathy toward anything perceived as "socialized" medicine, and medical schools' and universities' desire for infusions of funding to expand and compete with one another-stymied almost all attempts at regulation. …

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