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In Not Quite a Cancer Vaccine, medical anthropologist S.D. Gottlieb explores how the vaccine Gardasil—developed against the most common sexually-transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV)—was marketed primarily as a cervical cancer vaccine. Gardasil quickly became implicated in two pre-existing debates—about adolescent sexuality and pediatric vaccinations more generally.
Prior to its market debut, Gardasil seemed to offer female empowerment, touting protection against HPV and its potential for cervical cancer. Gottlieb questions the marketing pitch’s vaunted promise and asks why vaccine marketing unnecessarily gendered the vaccine’s utility, undermining Gardasil’s benefit for men and women alike. This book demonstrates why in the ten years since Gardasil’s U.S. launch its low rates of public acceptance have their origins in the early days of the vaccine dissemination. Not Quite a Cancer Vaccine addresses the on-going expansion in U.S. healthcare of patients-as-consumers and the ubiquitous, and sometimes insidious, health marketing of large pharma.
About the Author
S.D. GOTTLIEB is a medical anthropologist. She has taught in the department of anthropology, geography and environmental sciences at California State University, East Bay, and was a visiting scholar in the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society at the University of California-Berkeley.
"Not Quite a Cancer Vaccine offers an intimate examination of HPV vaccine narratives, traced through public media, clinics, conferences, and public policy debates. In an era of commodified health care, such explorations are necessary to lay bare the motivations of health interventions as a public good only after corporate interests are served. Despite their potential good, inappropriate promotions of new technologies may minimize or even ignore the health inequities they aim to address." — Nicola L. Bulled
“This exciting book analyzes the cultural struggles over the vaccine Gardasil as both a source of corporate profit and an icon in the moral imagination of patients, doctors and health activists. Gottlieb expertly blends anthropology, media studies and feminist critique to illuminate how “disease threats” are defined in our era of corporate medicine and polarized politics.”
— Paul Brodwin
ReachMD "Primary Care Today" interview with Samantha Gottlieb — ReachMD "Primary Care Today"