"Who's winning the human race?" Cold war as pharmaceutical political strategy

Dominique A. Tobbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Between 1959 and 1962, Senator Estes Kefauver led a congressional investigation into the pricing practices of U.S. drug firms. As part of its defense, the industry mobilized the rhetoric of cold war and promoted the industry as a critical national asset in the global war against communism. The industry argued that any effort to undermine corporate innovation by inviting, as Kefauver proposed, greater government involvement in drug development threatened the public's health and invited socialism - in the form of socialized medicine - into the domestic political economy. This strategy proved critical to the industry's efforts to build political support for itself, particularly among the medical profession, and undermine Kefauver's reform agenda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-473
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of the history of medicine and allied sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the American Institute for the History of Pharmacy and a Lemelson Center Fellowship from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.


  • Cold war
  • Drug industry
  • Drug regulation
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Industry-academic relations
  • Pharmaceuticals


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