Get access

Biomedical ambivalence: Asthma diagnosis, the pharmaceutical, and other contradictions in Barbados



In recent years in Barbados, the interaction of multinational pharmaceutical companies, the Ministry of Health (MOH), and international biomedical research has resulted in a focus on pharmaceuticals in public health intervention and the production of an expansive category of asthma. This article explores the views and uses of this process based on fieldwork conducted with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, MOH officials, and patient families involved in asthma care. Following ambiguities and contradictions in the significance of biomedical objects, I argue that this integration of pharmaceutical markets occurs with a foundational instability. Such ambiguity and contradiction are central to both the efficacy and undermining of global economic processes, including “pharmaceuticalization.”[pharmaceuticalization, ambiguity, asthma, globalization]