From Drug Safety to Drug Security

Presented by Julia Hornberger

Monday, 16 April, 2012 - 15:00

The fight against counterfeit medication has precipitated a shift from ‘drug safety’ to ‘drug security’. In examining that shift, this project inquires into the unfolding of a logic that aims at ‘securing’ health. Traditionally, the production and distribution of medication has been subject to a d rug safety paradigm,  which assumes ignorance rather than criminal intent from defaulters, and implies that  regulatory measures  can discipline  bad practices into best ones. More recently, though, a range of actors dealing with pharmaceuticals, both in trade and in treatment, have voiced concerns that a new kind of risk is threatening the safe consumption of medication in ways that cannot be defused through older disciplinary means. They suggest that global health has come und er growing threat from criminal s intent on trading in fake medications. This warrants new security interventions , particularly in the form of increased transnational law enforcement. But just as these new efforts at drug security take shape, the highly indeterminate line between good and bad medications forces health security personnel to act in ways that unravel at least certain aspects of the logic of securing health. They end up in slippages that replace the distinction of good and bad medications with the distinction of good and bad people, and the focus on a healthy population is replaced with an identitarian body politics, with major effects on the nature of security itself. While biopolitical security turns on securing the flows of bodies and goods, here we find a security of blockages, expressed in petty performances of sovereignty.  Health care becomes the care of the criminal self.

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