Racializing drug design: implications of pharmacogenomics for health disparities

Am J Public Health. 2005 Dec;95(12):2133-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.068676. Epub 2005 Oct 27.


Current practices of using "race" in pharmacogenomics research demands consideration of the ethical and social implications for understandings of group difference and for efforts to eliminate health disparities. This discussion focuses on an "infrastructure of racialization" created by current trajectories of research on genetic differences among racially identified groups, the use of race as a proxy for risk in clinical practice, and increasing interest in new market niches by the pharmaceutical industry. The confluence of these factors has resulted in the conflation of genes, disease, and race. I argue that public investment in pharmacogenomics requires careful consideration of current inequities in health status and social and ethical concerns over reifying race and issues of distributive justice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Drug Design*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics / ethics*
  • Racial Groups*
  • United States