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Political Economy of Biomedical Technology

P Omkar Nadh ( is a research scholar with the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru.

The growth of the biotechnology industry in India in the recent years merits a closer examination of the political economy of biomedical technology and how the epistemological advances in life sciences generated a whole sector of industry through a process of “co-production.” An elucidation of the factors of political economy also throws light on how the commonly held notions of science, scientific knowledge, and healthcare are undergoing a transformation, and the role of genomics and biotechnology in ushering in this change.

The author would like to thank his PhD supervisor Sobin George for his constant support and motivation, as also an anonymous reviewer for invaluable comments and suggestions.

The broader understanding of political economy is the study of the relations of production, and this article attempts to elucidate the political economy specific to biomedical technology (BMT). It is a political economy study in the sense of studying BMT as Kaushik Sunder Rajan (2006: 31) points out, “coming in to terms with an entire epistemic framework of how knowledge, money and capital circulate and inform the way people live their lives.” On the one hand, this article tries to point out the role and significance of BMT in the transformation of drug manufacturing and the conception of healthcare, and on the other, it tries to provide an account of the political economy factors that facilitated this role play, in terms of the actors involved and the actions they performed.

The advent of biotechnology, particularly after the completion of genome sequencing by the Human Genome Project (HGP), is one of the significant causes of a major transformation in the rapid use of genomics as a tool in drug manufacturing and many other healthcare services and in fact, it inaugurated what is called the “postgenomic”1 era. Initially, there was a lot of hope surrounding this tool and a whole new set of technological developments (such as recombinant DNA techniques, polymerase chain reaction machines, etc) and knowledge expansion (proteomics, functional genomics, etc) took place. These developments are technological in the sense that,

any assembly structured by a practical rationality governed by a more or less conscious goal … hybrid assemblages of knowledge, instruments, systems of judgement, buildings and spaces, underpinned at the programmatic level and assumptions about human beings. (Rose 2007: 17)

But the nature of the knowledge produced presents characteristics different from the historical descriptions of scientific knowledge such as Robert Merton’s (1973) communism, universalism, disinterestedness and organised scepticism.

BMT and the Knowledge Economy

Set to operate as a paradigm, the new biology has been controversial right from its inception and it brought to light certain issues that were outside the ambit of our social, political and legal imaginations. When the idea of the HGP initially came up, scholars from the scientific community itself opposed this mega-scale project, accusing it of dwarfing more essential small projects and also that such an exercise would be futile, given the high nature of uncertainty in biological mechanisms (Hood and Rowen 2013). However, the project began with the Department of Energy along with the National Institute of Health (NIH) from the United States (US) being the principal sponsors, along with five other countries (the United Kingdom [UK], Germany, Japan, China, and France) taking part in this mega project (NIH 2018). A few concerns that were raised with the advent of this technology were questions with regard to the commercialisation of knowledge, owning knowledge in the form of patents, the role of universities in acting as primarily entrepreneurial entities and the role of the state as an active agent in embedding life in the circuit of capital.

The cloning of animals in the form of Dolly the sheep, using embryonic stem cells for reproduction, the ownership of tissues in the case of tissue donors, the potential these technologies possess in creating new social identities, etc are few of the many issues that BMT raised in the context of existing social and legal frameworks. Subsequently, a co-production2 of institutions came about, which Sheila Jasanoff (2011) calls bio constitutionalism. Bio constitutionalism refers to how rights are reframed in a context of the co-production of law and life sciences and stresses upon “the irreducible contingency of life–law relationships and thereby restore normative agency to social actors” (Jasanoff 2011: 32).

With the advent of biotechnology and subsequently the mechanisms that ensured patenting to an extent of “patenting life forms,” a transformation in the nature of knowledge occurred in terms of its production. Though knowledge articulates itself as “non-material” in most situations,3 it has both use value and exchange value, particularly because this sector operates in a speculative marketplace and also because of the scope of knowledge in the post-Fordist, rapid, high-tech, innovative sectors. This in turn changed the existing logic of capital and generated a new logic. Certain changes took place in the epoch of capitalism, that is, the vitality of life started being appropriated as a source of surplus value.4 Though biotechnology is a kind of knowledge economy, it is different from those like the information economy in the sense that capital intersects “life itself” (Rose 2007) and not “just work” (Rajan 2006). BMT is a classic case of one such economy, which is specifically described as a bioeconomy by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD 2009).

Neo-liberalism and the Rise of BMT

Several scholars have already shown how political economy factors led to the emergence of biotechnology in the US and the United Kingdom(UK), and how as a part of the neo-liberal experiment (Lehman 2010), ever tighter alliances were forged between state-funded research, the market in new technologies and finance capital. Melinda Cooper (2008: 19) argues that

the biotech revolution is the result of a whole series of legislative and regulatory measures designed to relocate economic production at the genetic, microbial and cellular level, so that life becomes, literally, annexed with capitalist process of accumulation.

There are also studies, particularly those that theoretically articulated the consequences of the corporatisation of life science as “biocapital” (Rajan 2006), and how these new technologies exercise power over society and life in a way by fundamentally redefining and reproducing life through “biopower” (Rose 2007).

The principles of the neo-liberal free market economy of unleashing the individual entrepreneur’s freedom without state intervention has just been a rhetoric and ironically, if it was not for state support, the ascent of this industry could not be imagined. The 21st century has witnessed unprecedented technological growth and technology has become an important component in the means of production. Unlike industrial capitalism where mass production of material commodities through the division of labour took place in a factory, the new arenas of capitalism are engaging with new modes of production, where the commodities need not necessarily take any material shape. Biotechnology is one specific example of this phenomenon, where the division of labour need not necessarily take place within the four walls of the industry. It creates a division of labour within the innovation process itself. Now, innovations in the pharmaceutical sector are created in a variety of organisational arrangements, in in-house laboratories of large pharmaceutical firms, small in-house teams of dedicated biotechnology firms (DBFs), strategic alliances, research consortiums, in public–private cooperative networks, etc (Maria and Ramani 2005: 677).

Along with this, what additionally took place was the co-production of institutional structures and mechanisms, resulting in blurring the rigid boundaries between that of “basic science” and “applied research,” and also the rigid division of labour between universities and industries. It can be said that “science and business largely operated in separate spheres” (Pisano 2006: 2) before biotechnology. During the era of industrial capitalism, the generation of knowledge and the production of commodities were activities undertaken by different sets of actors and institutions. But, what is being witnessed today is that, there is a convergence between the actors and institutions involved in both these processes, thereby resulting in the dilution of previously existing rigid boundaries.

In numerous instances, the boundaries between a university and a biotech firm is blurred. The founders of a substantial number of biotech firms include the professors who invented the technologies that start ups licensed from universities, often in return for an equity stake. (Pisano 2006: 2)

Growth of BMT in India

The business models that existed before in India were not quite complicated, thanks to the process patents that ensured this, but this situation certainly changed in 2005. Given these emerging complexities and the generation of the value chain at a global level in drug manufacturing through speculative finance capital, the case of India at the outset seems to be
that of an imitation of the Western approach, particularly that of the US.

BMT is a highly technological, knowledge-intensive and risky enterprise and the market space in which this sector operates is highly speculative. The implementation of previously successful business models such as the Silicon Valley Model could not ensure desired outcomes, as was evident in the form of the genomics bubble burst in 2001 (Pisano 2006).

Interestingly, India has witnessed significantly increasing growth rates in the biotechnology sector, with biopharmaceuticals as the leading sub-sector (DBT 2013). However, no studies have looked at this and analysed the causes behind this success proclaimed in terms of the composite annual growth rate, questioning the significant changes that took place and the reasons behind the same. Very few studies that looked at the specific case of India were conducted in a period when a strategic economic turnover had just started taking shape, the year 2005, which can be called the emergent moment when DBFs in the form of start-ups had just started coming up. This was also the time when multinational pharmaceuticals and biotechnology firms that had once left India with the introduction of process patents, started their operations again. “As a part of the process of liberalisation since the 1990s, restrictions on manufacturing and investment applicable to the MNCs have also been withdrawn” (Chaudhuri 2014: 2).

The emergence of high-tech biotechnology industries is clearly a result of an epistemological and paradigmatic shift in the field of modern science with relation to modern biology and medicine. As described above, the nature of knowledge has also been transformed through the corporatisation of life sciences, indicating how “co-production” takes place. Through such co-production, it is clearly visible that what is at stake are the commonly held notions of science.

We think that science is an institution, a set of methods, a set of people, a great body of knowledge that we call scientific, is somehow apart from the forces that rule our everyday lives and that govern the structure of our society. (Lewontin 1995: 8)

While epistemological advancements have led to a transformation of the means of production, with the emergence of a specific type of (bio)economy, they have also fundamentally redefined human life and social action, “by shifting its aim from the elimination of disease to the management of risks, biomedicine has opened the door to a never-ending pursuit of risk reduction” (Strasser 2014: 15).

Change in the Conceptions of Health

Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim (2000) has analysed gene technology using spiral shape process and argued that health acted as a cultural prerequisite for gene technology. According to her,

the values of health and responsibility create cultural acceptance of genome analysis and through spread of genome analysis the values of health are themselves changed … and hence genome analysis is not just a neutral means for a predefined end but rather as rapid expansion of this technology will bring about a radical redefinition of the concepts of health. (Beck-Gernsheim 2000: 123)

With the promise of better health, biotechnology has gained public support and money which is witnessed in the form of the HGP. After health being used as a starting point for the acceptance of gene technology and with the expansion of gene technology, the concept of health itself begins to change and expand. From a stage of treating the already existing disease, with the expansion of gene technology, society experiences the stage of prevention, that is, treating the infinite number of risk factors (Beck-Gernsheim 2000).

When medicine began to rely on statistics from the 1950s, public health researchers amassed evidence that helped produce the notions of populations at “risk” and risk became a target of medical intervention (Dumit 2012). With the advent of genomics and biotechnology, what took place was that they served as important tools for identifying those risk factors and enumerated such risk factors through clinical trials. In turn, drugs were manufactured to treat them. As Joseph Dumit (2012: 5) says, “the drugs would be taken not to cure the condition but to reduce the risk factor and potential future events.”

Disciplines such as pharmacokinetics and pharmaco-genomics have delivered new types of healthcare services, embedded with the preventive logic of health through the knowledge of genomics. This shaped a cultural transformation of health and differentiated between felt illness and risk illness, and risk illness became embedded in the circulation of commodities to generate a surplus value, which Dumit (2012) calls “Surplus Health.” The cause of such cultural transformation lies within the marketing strategies of industries through “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) drugs, facilitated by legislations and competitive labour markets. Though DTCs are still not legalised in India, given the reach of the internet and online platforms, they are accessible to those who can afford them.

Patent Regime in the Indian Context

In the case of India, the need for the transformation of the existing pharmaceutical economy to coexist along with the high-tech bioeconomy as a means for surplus value, was necessitated in 1995 with the introduction of the product patent regime. India became a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and this agreement specifies that from 2005, all drugs manufactured after 1995 will come under the product patent regime. In accordance with the same, the previously existing patent regime of “process patent,” which ensured the glory of the Indian generic pharmaceutical industry, was to be put to an end.

However, several provisions such as Section 3d of the Patents Act, 1970 (as amended in 2005) holds that, “any new form of a known substance cannot be patented, unless it shows significantly enhanced efficacy over the already known substance” (Rajan 2015: 60) but what determines a significantly enhanced efficacy is not clearly defined. One has to note that determining the significance of enhancement is a matter of purely technical expertise and is supposed to be universal. But ironically, what has been witnessed in the Novartis Gleevec case5 in India is that the patent was rejected based on the evidence that there was just 30% enhanced efficacy, and that too was not therapeutic efficacy (Rajan 2015). Novartis took the Indian Patent Office to the Madras High Court, challenging its decision and the constitutional validity of Section 3d, stating that it violates the TRIPS Agreement. Though Novartis lost the case, it was based on the defence claim that domestic courts lack the authority to rule about TRIPS compatibility and this has to be exclusively settled at the WTO’s settlement board (Rajan 2015). At the WTO settlement board, it is not corporations but only member nations that can take up the issue. Hence, how far Section 3d of the Patents Act can help prevent the evergreening of patents is an issue that has a lot to do with global power relations.

In addition to Section 3d, other important provisions are “pre-grant oppositions” and “post-grant oppositions,” which are provided from a public health perspective to oppose any patent, in case it is felt to be wrongly filed, or if it threatens access to medicines. However, the US has applied enormous pressure against the use of TRIPS flexibilities by India and the “United States International Trade Commission has already initiated an investigation against India on its trade, investment and industrial policies, especially with regard to protection of IPRs” (Joseph 2016: 156). Before the TRIPS Agreement, when the patent act that was in place was the Patents Act, 1970, which allowed only process patents in drugs, the period of patent protection was just seven years and the local production of patented subject matter was mandatory (Joseph 2016). However, with the introduction of product patent regimes, all such advantages enjoyed by the domestic manufacturers are threatened. This shift in the patent regime and the consequent venturing into the high drug manufacturing process is what is broadly defined as the shift from the “reverse engineering block buster drug model” to the “knowledge intensive high-tech drug manufacturing process.”

While these two can be considered as two poles of the drug development process, the latter, in itself being a highly complex process, has produced a terrain in which the drug manufacturing process reorganised itself, emerging with a new means of production, new sources of value generation, and new logics of capital. However, this reorganisation is not just determined by free market logic, but through the active
involvement of various political and economic institutions, displaying the characteristics of neo-liberalism. In India, the need for such reorganisation is much more vital in the wake of the global harmonisation of patent laws. The shift has opened up the health sector fields that once seemed not so attractive for multinational companies (MNCs).

Role of BMT in Drug Manufacturing

One of the tools of biotechnology that fundamentally redefined approaches to drug manufacturing is genomics. It is a form of knowledge as well as a form of biological material that gets articulated in novel forms. Genomics with its high throughput sequence information played a crucial role in drug manufacturing, which is a capital-intensive and high-risk enterprise. The Tufts Center study estimates that the cost of bringing a new drug to the market is around $1,395 million and only one out of every five drugs that enters clinical trials is successful (DiMasi et al 2016). With discoveries in genomics and biotechnology, what was promised was individual, personalised medicine aimed at treating those rare diseases that had no cure.

Though the fulfilment of this promise has not taken complete shape, genomics did highly influence drug manufacturing in a variety of ways. It played a crucial role in what is called “rational drug design” in the block buster drug model, and was used in each and every step of drug manufacturing, such as in assessing the trial population, the toxicity study of drugs, identifying key drug targets, and producing drugs using recombinant DNA methods, and numerous diagnostic tests that ushered in the generation of the risk epistemology of health, in the form of preventive health. Given these advantages on the one hand and structural constraints of capital-intensive markets on the other, genomics and biotechnology industries in most developed countries have become another arm of multinational pharmaceutical capital, and simultaneously generated a new division of labour with their own technological and organisational transformations.

Global Origins of the BMT Industry

Genomics is a highly knowledge-intensive enterprise and it has brought along several new mechanisms that were traditionally not associated either with life sciences or with capital markets. It can be said that the patenting phenomenon in life sciences almost originated with the advent of genomics, which in turn led to the generation and sustainability of speculative capital markets. Venture capital in life sciences also started with the advent of genomics (Hughes 2011). Genomics would have never become a reality if it was not for the role of public universities and federal research efforts. The story of Genentech, which is the first commercially successful genomics company, exemplifies this. Genentech is primarily based on the knowledge produced within public universities and what facilitated this exchange of knowledge for commercial purposes has been a result of broader political and structural changes that took place in the process of neo-liberalisation. In fact, the genesis of biotechnology (industry) coincided with the rise of neo-liberal policies and this fostered a “biotechnology that became embedded in the innovation model for medicines in which entrepreneurialism and optimising returns on investment are central” (Lehman 2010: 2). Two crucial factors that played a key role as a part of this structural transformation are the Bayh-Dole Act, 1980 and the legal pronouncement of patenting life forms. What has also been witnessed was that this technology has also given rise to a new class called “scientific entrepreneur,” referring to scientists becoming entrepreneurs.

Political Economy of BMT in the US

Several political economy factors played a crucial role in the genesis of the biotechnology industry. President Ronald Regan’s neo-liberal era of high incentives and less regulations, and enhanced funding for research and development (R&D) in basic sciences played a crucial role in the ascent of this industry. The missing regulations of drug price control also provided an advantage for its growth (Lehman 2010). Along with these, legal outcomes of some cases with regard to patenting, such as the Diamond v Chakrabarty (1980) case, affected the growth trajectory of this industry. To quote an industrial representative regarding the case and its significance,

In 1980, the Supreme Court also held, in Diamond v Chakrabarty—some believe this was a landmark decision that allowed for the progress of the biotech industry—that genetically engineered bacteria useful for cleaning up oil spills were patentable. In writing for the majority, Chief Justice Burger cited the Congressional Committee Report accompanying the 1952 Act. He stated that, “Congress intended statutory subject matter to ‘include anything under the sun that is made by man’.” So, the law is actually clear, very clear, on who should own biotech innovations. (Feisee 2002: 359)

Interestingly, before 1980, which is when the Supreme Court decision came out, there were only a handful of biotech companies. The innovator at the time was Genentech; then, after that, Cetus Chiron. But after Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the biotech industry grew phenomenally (Feisee 2002: 359).

The role of public universities and federal research processes lies at the heart of this industry and today in the US, the clustering of major biotechnology firms in a given geographical set-up hints at the advantage that public universities provide. Policies in the form of the Bayh-Dole Act, 1980 and the Orphan Drug Act, 1983 that helped in commercialising research by public universities changed the nature of knowledge itself. The Bayh-Dole Act, 1980 allowed for the transfer of technologies from universities to industries and the Orphan Drug Act, 1983 provided incentives for the industry to manufacture drugs for rare diseases, but an important point to note here is that these drugs can be sold with exclusive monopolies in the form of “marketing exclusivity” (Englander 1991). Three drugs, namely Amgen’s erythropoietin for end-stage renal disease anaemia, Genentech’s human growth hormone, and Lyphomed’s aserosol pentamidine for AIDS-related pneumonia, all manufactured by biotechnology companies using this policy, generated the earnings of a blockbuster drug (Englander 1991).

Along with these, many other incentives such as the Economic Recovery Tax Act, 1981 which awarded tax credits for R&D, the Patent Term Restoration Act, 1984 and the 1987 Presidential Executive Order for pushing more technology transfer from federally funded universities, all played a key role in the ascent and progress of this industry (Loeppky 2005). To encourage this speculative market and failed biotechnology companies, a new stock market trading in the form of Nasdaq6 emerged, where life science companies with no products on the market can be traded (Cooper 2008). Hence, the origin, ascent and market growth of the biotechnology industry cannot be imagined, if it was not for the role of the neo-liberal policies.

Subjectivities and the Healthcare System

With the advancement of biotechnology and the molecular understanding of life, what has emerged is the concept of “relative health” and a paradigm of preventive medicine, which in turn has generated a population of “patients in waiting” and “consumers in waiting.” Today, a new set of diagnostic tests through an understanding of the genetic predisposition of diseases, single nucleotide polymorphisms and multiple nucleotide polymorphisms, proteomics, functional genomics, etc, are operating and literally, biotechnology is creating new forms of life and new subjectivities, that are outdoing the existing pedagogies to make a sense of it (Fischer 1999). The preventive paradigm of medicine, through various statistical mechanisms, has created a concept of relative health, where being healthy is no more a static concept but rather it has become dynamic through risk reduction. This creation of subjectivities is a part of the capital logic of the generation of surplus value, which was long hinted at by science historian Georges Canguilhem (1994: 318), “To define life as a meaning inscribed in matter is to acknowledge the existence of an a priori objective that is inherently material and not merely formal.”

At a macro level, two categories of subjectivities that were generated at an emergent stage of this industry that differ at the level of developed and developing economies, have been pointed out in the form of “sovereign genomic consumers” and “genomed (consumables)” (Rajan 2006), where patient populations of developing countries like India are used as experimental subjects in clinical trials and the populations of developed countries are sovereign consumers of the products generated through these experimental subjects. Over and above, there was also a generation of a new brand of ethics that blurred the boundaries between coercion and consent (Rose 2007). But if we closely observe what is constant in all of these different subjectivities and multiple expressions of healthcare, it is nothing but “value.” Economic value is the single thread that connects all the descriptions, subjectivities and multiple expressions of healthcare.

The Case of India

India as early as in the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980–1985) realised the significance of biotechnology for commercial purposes (Chaturvedi 2002). Today, the section on the biotechnology sector on the “Make in India” website states that India has a large population with “high disposable income” as one of the “reasons to invest” in this sector (Government of India nd), indicating that it can be a centre of sovereign genomic consumers. However, the growth of the clinical trial industry in India also indicates that it still holds the identity of the “genomed.” The growth rate of the biotechnology industry in India has been significantly high in the last few years and this gives a sense of its success (DBT 2013).

With the implementation of product patents, the Indian drug manufacturing industry had to move away from its comfort zone and enter a terrain of drug manufacturing, which is highly complex and technology intensive. Therefore, changing over to a WTO regime, for this industry,

does not just mean adopting new and unfamiliar methods of drug discovery, which necessitates the setting up of R&D facilities; it also means abandoning a revenue based business model in favor of the potentially lucrative but far riskier growth based model, in which Indian companies would be pitted in direct competition against more powerful Western companies in order to achieve any growth. (Rajan 2006: 116)

At the same time, biotechnology is being hailed as an innovative and efficient drug technology that can be used in rational drug design and provide tailored medicines for individuals.

Several DBFs came into the market specifically through venture capital support and state intervention, which provided a highly conducive business environment. What has also occurred globally is that drug manufacturing has become highly capital-intensive, and the tensions of losing existing patents and the risk of being unsuccessful indicates how high the stakes in this process are. This has led to several strategies, with the emergence of partnerships between small DBFs and large-scale multinational pharmaceutical companies in the form of mergers and acquisitions, with the pharmaceutical companies merely functioning as investment bankers. Given the role of financialisation, patents have emerged as new property rights that drive the business in this speculative marketplace and this often drives growth.

The Indian state provided enormous state support and though the industry is registering high-growth rates, initially much of this was not from producing novel drug candidates, but rather from contract research, or by conducting clinical trials, or producing biosimilars and a few diagnostic tests, and not so much due to successful R&D outcomes (Abrol et al 2011). Similar to the US, India also allowed technology transfers from universities to the industry. In comparison to the US where venture capital support to the industry came mostly from private players, surprisingly in India venture capital is also provided by the state through its institutions such as the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council. These institutions also assist the industry in terms of resources, guidance and technology transfers and collaborations with foreign industries. India has also become a favourite destination for clinical trials by MNCs because of its huge pool of genetic resources and cost effectiveness (Petryna 2009).

These statistics from Table 1 clearly point to a spurt of growth in the biotechnology sector. Out of the five most important sub-sectors of the biotechnology industry, three are either directly or indirectly related to the BMT sector which are biopharma, bioinformatics and bioservices. While bioinformatics is related to handling large data that comes out of gene sequencing, bioservices is mainly dominated by clinical trials and contract research to MNCs. Biopharmaceuticals is the leading sub-sector among all and it can be witnessed how the income of this particular sub-sector almost doubled in a period of five years. This income is both from the manufacturing of biosimilars,7 as well as novel drug candidates. Today, there are more than 1,000 biotechnology start-ups in India, with more than 50% of them operating in the biopharmaceutical sector (ABLE 2016). And it is highly likely that, with the increasing relevance of the internet and digital platforms, genetic and preventive medicine paradigms would have a considerable effect on the healthcare perceptions of the Indian public, at least on those belonging to the “high disposable income” population group.

Concluding Remarks

It is evident how despite the free market rhetoric, the neo-liberal state played an important role in the development of BMT, both in the case of India and the US. The Indian state went beyond the US by providing venture capital support by itself, whereas in the US venture capital is a private affair. As Kaushik Sunder Rajan (2012: 2) points out, “the emergence of a new technology itself could hardly be considered as a sufficient cause for the arise of an entirely new industrial segment, which can only be understood as a consequence of the conjuncture of several events and facts.” While on the one hand epistemological advancements and healthcare necessities have led to the advent of technology, on the other, the advancement of this technology has led to transformations in the nature of knowledge and the conceptions of healthcare, indicating how the process of co-production takes place. It is also evident how epistemological advancements concomitant with capital “redefined life” as a source of surplus value, hinting at the emergence of the new logics of capital.


1 At the start of the HGP, genome sequencing was regarded as an end in itself, but once the sequencing was completed, new objectives came into picture, indicating that sequencing is only a new beginning towards “new ends” (Rajan 2006).

2 For further insights on co-production, refer to Reardon (2001).

3 Most patents are not realised into final products.

4 The source surplus value is not labour, but to borrow Nikolas Rose’s (2007) phrase, “life itself.”

5 For a more detailed analysis of this case, refer to Rajan (2015).

6 “Unlike conventional exchanges the NASDAQ was able to list high-risk start-up firms that had registered losses for several years running and boasted little or no collateral. These unprofitable firms were authorized to include a whole range of intangible, speculative assets in their financial statements, including patent portfolios on not yet commercialized products” (Cooper 2008: 28). 7 Biosimilars means manufacturing of those drugs which are off patent.


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Rose, Nikolas (2007): The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjectivity in the Twenty-first Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Strasser, B J (2014): Biomedicine: Meanings, Assumptions, and Possible Futures, Berne: The Swiss Science and Innovation Council.

Updated On : 1st Sep, 2018


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