What happens when pharmaceuticals overflow the boundaries imposed by regulatory structures, carrier materials, and places and methods of production? This panel explores how new theoretical frameworks, methodologies, approaches and actors can contribute to addressing risk in a pharmaceutical world.
When birth control hormones are found in drinking water and fish in streams contain Prozac, it is time to acknowledge that pharmaceuticals have gone rogue. If illness is the "new normal" (Dumit 2012), then the bioactive materials that at once define, sustain, or assuage illness will inevitably escape the limits imagined in their usage scripts. The papers in this panel ask what happens when pharmaceuticals overflow the boundaries imposed by regulatory structures, carrier materials, and places and methods of production. What new risks-to bodies and environments-appear in an increasingly pharmaceuticalized world? Jia-Shin Chen explores how technological and institutional architectures in Taiwan shape and ignore usage of buprenorphine, a commonly used opioid replacement, suggesting that structural partitions between technologies and institutions limits policy efforts. Nina Honkela examines how failures to engage the public emotionally circumscribes effectiveness of responses to epigenetic threats from pharmaceutical estrogens. Victoria Boydell demonstrates that women's off-script usage of oral contraceptives to remake their bodies to fit modern exigencies nonetheless reinforce historical gender scripts. Christy Spackman traces how knowledge of circular pharmaceutical flows from human into marine bodies--aquatic and otherwise--is made absent or present by water utilities, suggesting that the active erasure of pharmaceutical presence in public outreach campaigns has shifted realms of expertise into non-traditional scientific actors. Taken together, this panel demonstrates the possibilities offered to this "brave new" pharmaceutical world by theoretical frameworks, methodologies, approaches and actors.