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.
"Dietrich presents the story of Nocora (a pseudonym), a municipality in Puerto Rico that has been the recipient of the blessing and curse of having pharmaceutical companies in its backyard." ~I. Glasser, Choice
"Dietrichs study fruitfully combines the old and the new as a traditional anthropological community study on a cutting-edge topic of profound global significance." ~New West Indian Guide
"Offers a compelling and thought-provoking account of the politics of recognition in Nocorá Puerto Rico, a municipality where the stench of pollution pervades the air, soil, and water. In Nocorá one lives beneath the shadow of one's corporate `neighbors, an imposing complex of pharmaceutical companies that turns a blind eye to the insidious effects of toxic by-products while boasting of their lucrative trade in health elsewhere. Set against the invisibility of chronic suffering, local grassroots activists must always fight to be seen and heard. Here one encounters a lively cast of people who inhabit an environment both tranquil and contaminated. This is a smart and masterful portrayal of the realities of activism and the power of corporate public relations strategies, a convincing ethnography that integrates medical anthropology and political ecology in expert fashion. Every employee of Big Pharma should be required to read this book." ~Lesley A. Sharp,Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College
"The Drug Company Next Dooris ambitious, successful, closely reasoned, vivid, exciting, enormously distressing, and challenging on a political and theoretical level. Dietrichs writing is so good that I would recommend this book for use at any level of anthropological study, from undergraduate all the way up." ~Political and Legal Anthropology Review