Health, Culture & Society

Michael Tan

Good medicine. Pharmaceuticals and the construction of power and knowledge in the Philippines.

Amsterdam: Spinhuis, 1999
ISBN 90-5589-071-5

This book looks into the ways people choose medicines, including popular interpretations of safety, efficacy, affordability and need. Michael Tan presents case studies looking at specific categories of medicines: vitamins, cough preparations, antibiotics, contraceptives, medicinal plants and generics. By describing how people talk about medicines, and by presenting advertisements for pharmaceuticals, Tan shows how popular knowledge about medicines is shaped and reshaped by different stakeholders in their different social and political contexts: the drug industry, the government, ‘activist’ groups, health professionals and lay people.

The book looks into policy implications of the vast popular culture surrounding medicines, urging a broader perspective the book looks beyond the biomedical attributes of medicine.

Michael Tan is associate professor of anthropology at the University of the Philippines and executive director of Health Action Information Network (HAIN), a non-governmental organization active in health-research, training and advocacy.