Relocating health governance: personalized medicine in times of ‘global genes’

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To date, governance questions related to personalized medicine – the consideration of the genetic and genomic determinants of varying drug response in patients – have been primarily addressed in terms of ethical implications. However, an analysis of the governance of personalized medicine should reach further. At present, governance issues arise in the context of an ongoing dispersion of national regulatory power. Due to the growing complexity of society, it has become impossible to govern society from a single center or by means of a single privileged governance mechanism. Governing increasingly includes the active participation of nongovernmental and individual actors by means of creating informal norms of conduct. Personalized medicine, due to its core concepts, fosters the emergence of new alliances (private and public, regional and global, for-profit and for-health) and thereby bears the promise to bridge some traditional dichotomies. Much rather than the quest for individualized drugs, it is this characteristic of personalized medicine that attracts so much attention from outside the medical and life science field.

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