Interferon: The Science and Selling of a Miracle Drug, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


The Science and Selling of a Miracle Drug, 1st Edition

By Toine Pieters


284 pages | 38 B/W Illus.

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This innovative study charts the beginnings, history and fate of Interferon - one of modern medicine's most famous and infamous drugs. Interferon is part of the medical profession's armoury against viral infection, cancer and MS. The story of its development and use is one of survival in the face of remarkable cycles of promise and disappointment as a miracle drug. By telling this story, Toine Pieters' book provides insight into the research, manufacture, and marketing of new bio-molecules that mark modern medical science.

Pieters' closely argued book adopts a multi-disciplinary approach in seeking to trace the extraordinary voyage of interferon. Through the lens of interferon's voyage, the book explores the interaction of the broad range of actors driving medical science:

*biological and clinical researchers

*the pharmaceutical industry

*high-powered government agencies

*doctors and patients

*the media.

The book demonstrates how research on interferon led to new clinical definitions of cancer and a new rationale for therapeutic use of the drug. Interferon provides a marvellous insight into the development of one of the most controversial drugs of our time. It enhances our understanding of how medicine manufacture and marketing all played a part in pushing back the boundaries of research, from the post-penicillin era to the genetics revolution in medicine.

This study is of particular interest to undergraduates and postgraduates in the fields of History of Medicine, Pharmacology, Medical Genetics and History of Science.


'This book is compelling reading for those interested in the interferon story, including the historical background and the scientists behind the discovery. The book is a thorough and readable account that is unique for interferon and has parallels with other major discoveries.' - Samuel Baron, M.D., University of Texas Medical Branch

"I heartily recommend the book to a wide audience, not just those interested in the history and social studies of science and medicine. Pieters has successfully let interferon appear in its multiple guises, its inventions and reinventions, not only in its own right but for all those who handled it. For it is important to remember that identity formation goes both ways: as interferon changed so did its handlers. Enjoy the read." - Dr. Jordan Goodman, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology

"The book is pleasant reading and flavored with many interesting and illuminating anecdotes reflecting milestones along the interferon saga" Nature Medicine

'Without doubt a stimulating book, refreshing old debates regarding thenature of biomedicine, the way we write about it, as well as pointing to new frontiers' - Medical History

About the Author

Toine Peters is senior research fellow at the Department of Metamedica of the VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, and Professor of History of Pharmacy at Groningen University, the Netherlands.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Studies in the History of Science Technology and Medicine aims to stimulate research in the field, concentrating on the twentieth century. It seeks to contribute to our understanding of science, technology and medicine as they are embedded in society, exploring the links between the subjects on the one hand, and the cultural, economic, political and institutional contexts of their genesis and development on the other. Within this framework, and while not favouring any particular methodological approach, the series welcomes studies which examine relations between science, technology, medicine and society in new ways, e.g. the social construction of technologies, large technical systems.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
HISTORY / General
SCIENCE / General