Abstract: Who's Winning the Human Race? Cold War as Pharmaceutical Political Strategy

Dominique A. Tobbell


Between 1959 and 1962, the American pharmaceutical industry was in crisis as Senator Estes Kefauver led a congressional investigation into the alleged administered pricing of drug firms. As 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. This meant not only framing all that Kefauver sought to change as an attempt to weaken the system of free enterprise; it also meant selling all that the industry did as an exemplar of that system. Thus, the industry hailed itself as a model of American free enterprise and sought, through the development of more products and through donations of drugs and other pharmaceutical supplies to aid missions in the Third World, to disseminate its message to those developing nations deemed susceptible to communism. At the same time, the industry argued that any challenge to the system of free enterprise not only threatened the country's international fight against communism but invited socialism into the domestic political economy. The industry's strategy to mobilize the rhetoric of cold war helped win the support of Congress and successfully derailed Kefauver's most radical efforts to increase the government's control over the drug industry.