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Tyranny of the Gene: Personalized Medicine and Its Threat to Public Health

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by James Tabery (Author) 

A revelatory account of how power, politics, and greed have placed the unfulfilled promise of personalized medicine at the center of American medicine

The United States is embarking on a medical revolution. Supporters of personalized, or precision, medicine—the tailoring of health care to our genomes—have promised to usher in a new era of miracle cures. Advocates of this gene-guided health-care practice foresee a future where skyrocketing costs can be curbed by customization and unjust disparities are vanquished by biomedical breakthroughs. Progress, however, has come slowly, and with a price too high for the average citizen.

In Tyranny of the Gene, James Tabery exposes the origin story of personalized medicine—essentially a marketing idea dreamed up by pharmaceutical executives—and traces its path from the Human Genome Project to the present, revealing how politicians, influential federal scientists, biotech companies, and drug giants all rallied behind the genetic hype. The result is a medical revolution that privileges the few at the expense of health care that benefits us all.

Now American health care, driven by the commercialization of biomedical research, is shifting focus away from the study of the social and environmental determinants of health, such as access to fresh and nutritious food, exposure to toxic chemicals, and stress caused by financial insecurity. Instead, it is increasingly investing in “miracle pills” for leukemia that would bankrupt most users, genetic studies of minoritized populations that ignore structural racism and walk dangerously close to eugenic conclusions, and oncology centers that advertise the perfect gene-drug match, igniting a patient’s hope, and often dashing it later.Tyranny of the Gene sounds a warning cry about the current trajectory of health care and charts a path to a more equitable alternative.


“Incisive . . . Tabery is a penetrating critic, positing that research on personalized drugs takes up an oversize share of funding because it’s more profitable than investigating environmental determinants of health. . . . This damning take on scientific bias is not to be missed.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An accessible narrative bolstered by prodigious research . . . An engaging, provocative study of a much-hyped aspect of American health care . . . Tabery succeeds in raising a compelling alarm about where things stand and making clear that the current situation could have been much different, all while laying the groundwork for an alternative future.”Kirkus Reviews

“The majority of the common diseases that take a large toll on health in America are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors, or those factors combined with genetics. Yet biomedical research today is focused on genes and exorbitantly expensive gene-based therapies—to the detriment of our health and our pocketbooks. In this powerful book, James Tabery explains how and why the promise of ‘personalized’ and ‘precision’ medicine has failed us. A must-read for doctors, patients, scientists, and anyone who cares about the future of health in America.”—Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Categories : Health Policy, Genetic Science


Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf (August 15, 2023)

Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 15, 2023

Language ‏ : ‎ English

File‏ : EPUB, 14.05 MB

Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported

Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Print length ‏ : ‎ 336 pages

You will get a EPUB (14MB) file

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