The Emerging Field of Race-Based Genetic Research: Can We Trust It?
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CitationThe Emerging Field of Race-Based Genetic Research: Can We Trust It? (2006 Third Year Paper)
AbstractIn June of 2005, the Food and Drug Administration approved a heart disease drug named BiDil exclusively for African Americans, provoking a fiery debate among medical researchers, sociologists, and legal scholars. On the one hand, some researchers have expressed concern that race-based drugs such as BiDil promote the notion that race carries a biological component. They emphasize that the use of such drugs will lead to harms against minorities, such as increased discrimination and the worsening of racial health disparities. Proponents of race-based drugs, on the other hand, argue that race is merely a temporary proxy for underlying genetic patterns, to be replaced by more precise indicators of drug efficacy in the future as technology advances. This paper explores the relationship between race and genetics, the significance this relationship may have in the field of medicine, and the long-term consequences race-based research may hold for minorities. This paper begins by describing the context surrounding the development of BiDil to illuminate why companies are beginning to pursue race-based research during this particular decade. The second part of the paper discusses the concept of race. It begins by outlining the way the law has historically understood the concept of race and concludes with a lengthy overview of genetic studies of racial disparities in terms of both disease susceptibility and drug response. Part III of the paper explores the dangers opponents of race-based research claim such research will have, while the final part of the paper proposes ways FDA may be able to curb such harms.
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