The Drug Company Next Door

The Drug Company Next Door

Pollution, Jobs, and Community Health in Puerto Rico

by Alexa S. Dietrich

Published by: NYU Press

251 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780814724736
  • Published: June 2013


  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9780814724996
  • Published: June 2013



Winner, 2015 Julian Steward Award from the American Anthropological Association

The production of pharmaceuticals is among the
most profitable industries on the planet. Drug companies produce chemical
substances that can save, extend, or substantially improve the quality of human
life. However, even as the companies
present themselves publicly as health and environmental stewards, their
factories are a significant source of air and water pollution—toxic to people
and the environment. In Puerto Rico, the pharmaceutical industry is the
backbone of the island’s economy: in one small town alone, there are over a
dozen drug factories representing five multinationals, the highest
concentration per capita of such factories in the world. It is a place where
the enforcement of environmental regulations and the public trust they ensure
are often violated in the name of economic development.

The Drug Company Next Door unites the concerns of critical medical anthropology with those of political ecology, investigating the multi-faceted role of pharmaceutical corporations as polluters, economic providers, and social actors. Rather than simply demonizing the drug companies, the volume explores the dynamics involved in their interactions with the local community and discusses the strategies used by both individuals and community groups to deal with the consequences of pollution.

The Drug Company Next Door puts a human face on a growing set of problems for communities around the world. Accessible and engaging, the book encourages readers to think critically about the role of corporations in everyday life, health, and culture.