This panel considers the increasing commodification of biomedical interventions in medical care and its implications for the future of human health. It examines the entrepreneurial practices that shape biomedical research and innovation and, as a consequence, the future of healthcare.
Biomedical technologies have become a major engine of change in global health care, constituting a prime means by which governments aspire to ameliorate disease and disability everywhere. Business considerations and commercial practices are driving developments in biomedicine, with both public and private health providers engaging in bioentrepreneurial undertakings. The emergence of innovative bioindustries have captured the interest of social scientists but despite the abundance of reflections on bioeconomy in academic discourse, very little is known about the actual ways through which biomedical markets are created. The panel considers the entrepreneurial engagements through which biomedical innovation is created, and asks how such engagements are changing the institutional nature of medical practice and the challenges this poses for the future of human health. What does the growing commercialisation of biomedical knowledge and practice mean for health care provision? The panel invites contributions that explore in fine-grained ethnography entrepreneurial engagements in biomedicine tracing the ways in which biomedical ventures are constituted. What are the legal and regulatory frameworks, scientific environments and institutional exchanges through which biomedical knowledge is turned into profitable ventures? We are particularly interested in ethnographic cases that chart complex institutional settings, dispersed networks, and collaborative flows as instrumental in the makings of successful biotech enterprises. The panel will also critically reflect on the role of anthropological knowledge in shaping developments in human health, by locating the production of this knowledge within ongoing processes of commoditisation, and examining the positions anthropologists are called to occupy with respect to bioentrepreneurial projects.