Animals on drugs: understanding the role of pharmaceutical companies in the animal-industrial complex

J Bioeth Inq. 2013 Dec;10(4):505-14. doi: 10.1007/s11673-013-9476-1. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


In this paper I revisit previous critiques that I have made of much, though by no means all, bioethical discourse. These pertain to faithfulness to dualistic ontology, a taken-for-granted normative anthropocentrism, and the exclusion of a consideration of how political economy shapes the conditions for bioethical discourse (Twine Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 8(3):285-295, 2005; International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 16(3):1-18, 2007, 2010). Part of my argument around bioethical dualist ontology is to critique the assumption of a division between the "medical" (human) and "agricultural" (nonhuman) and to show various ways in which they are interrelated. I deepen this analysis with a focus on transnational pharmaceutical companies, with specific attention to their role in enhancing agricultural production through animal drug administration. I employ the topical case of antibiotics in order to speak to current debates in not only the interdisciplinary field of bioethics but also that of animal studies. More generally, the animal-industrial complex (Twine Journal for Critical Animal Studies 10(1):12-39, 2012) is underlined as a highly relevant bioethical object that deserves more conceptual and empirical attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / economics
  • Animal Husbandry / ethics*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents*
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Bioethics*
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Ethical Theory
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Philosophy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations