The risks involved in introducing new drugs and devices are amongst the most discussed issues of modern medicine.
Presenting a new way of thinking about these issues, this volume considers risk and medical innovation from a social historical perspective, and studies specific cases of medical innovation, including X-rays, the pill and Thalidomide, in their respective contexts.
International cases are examined through the lens of a particular set of shared questions - highlighting differences, similarities, continuities and changes, and offering a historical sociology of risk. Particularly important is the re-conceptualization of dangers in terms of risk - a numerical and probabilistic approach allowing for seemingly objective and value-neutral decisions.
Read together, these papers add to our understanding of the current debate about risk and safety by providing a comparative background to the discussion, as well as a set of generally applicable criteria for analyzing and evaluating the contemporary issues surrounding medical innovation.
Preface. Risk and Medical Innovation: A Historical Perspective. To Assess and to Improve: Practitioners? Approaches to Doubts Linked with Medical Innovations 1720-1920. Anaesthesia and the Evaluation of Surgical Risk in Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain. Redemption, Danger, and Risk: The History of Anti-Bacterial Chemotherapy and the Transformation of Tuberculin. As Safe as Milk or Sugar Water?: Perceptions of Risks and Benefits of the BCG Vaccine in the 1920s and 1930s in France and Germany. From Danger to Risk: The Perception and Regulation of X-Rays in Switzerland 1896-1970. The Population as Patient: Alice Stewart and the Controversy over Low-Level Radiation in the 1950s. To Treat or Not to Treat: Drug Research and the Changing Nature of Essential Hypertension. Hormones at Risk: Cancer and the Medical Uses of Industrially-Produced. Sex Steroids in Germany, 1930-1960. Assessment and Medical Authority in Operative Fracture Care in the 1960 and 1970s. Assessing the Risk and Safety of the Pill: Maternal Mortality and the Pill. Addressing Uncertainties: The Conceptualisation of Brain Death in Switzerland 1960-2000. Risk on Trial. The Interaction of Innovation and Risk in Cancer Clinical Trials. BioRisk: Interleukin-2 from Laboratory to Market in the United States and Germany. The Redemption of Thalidomide: Standardizing the Risk of Birth Defects