"DRUGS" is a Research Networking Programme of the European Science Foundation (Standing Committee for the Humanities). It aims the analysis of processes of standardization in the development, regulation, marketing, and use of modern pharmaceuticals.
Using the theme of standardization, applied both to objects and practices, the network proposes to explore the development of twentieth-century medicine by looking at the production, distribution, prescription and consumption of major classes of therapeutic agents, such as sulfa-drugs, hormones, and psycho-active drugs. The aim is to evaluate the contribution of industrial, administrative and clinical standardization to the 'therapeutic revolution' (1920-1990) in which a series of 'miracle' drugs changed the face of Western medicine.
Rather than taking twentieth-century developments in the production and evaluation of drugs as 'natural' responses to a series of practical problems, we examine the evolution of industrial standards and drug trials, along with prescription and clinical practices, from a historical perspective. Thus, for example, by looking at the role played by accidents or proposed, but rejected, alternatives to standard modern practice, we aim to reveal the multiple forces that have shaped our modern medical world.
This approach takes us beyond the usual protagonists in this history - research scientists and their clinical partners - allowing important groundwork in the contextualization of this field with respect to the intervention of the state, industry, and other actors. A richer view of the context for the scientific innovation that lies behind the modern pharmaceutical industry promises to open up new perspectives in the analysis of today's health systems.
Furthermore, as standardization is a theme common to a number of disciplines, the proposed approach will open up interdisciplinary discussion allowing fruitful exchange between researchers who otherwise might not meet. Thus, we propose an international networking experience around a rich theme with a rich historical terrain, and significant contemporary interest.
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