The Pharmaceuticalization of Security: Molecular Biomedicine, Antiviral Stockpiles and Global Health Security

How has security policy come to be so deeply imbricated with pharmaceutical  logics and solutions?

You are invited to the POLIS seminar by Professor Stefan Elbe.  The seminar will take place on Thursday 6th  November in 14.33, Social Sciences Building at 4-5:30 pm.  Stefan’s abstract is below. PhD researchers, you are very welcome and strongly encouraged to attend.  Also, I'd really like to encourage MA researchers to attend. 

Please do come along to what promises to be a fascinating talk. 


Pharmaceuticals are now critical to the security of populations. Antivirals, antibiotics, next-generation vaccines and anti-toxins are just some of the new ‘medical  countermeasures’ that governments are stockpiling in order to defend their populations  against the threat of pandemics and bioterrorism. So, how has security policy come to be so deeply imbricated with pharmaceutical  logics and solutions? This article captures, maps and analyses the ‘pharmaceuticalization’ of security. Through an in-depth analysis of the prominent antiviral medication Tamiflu, it shows that this pharmaceutical turn in security policy is intimately bound up with the rise of a molecular vision of life promulgated by the biomedical sciences. Caught in the crosshairs of powerful commercial, political and regulatory pressures, governments are embracing a molecular biomedicine promising to secure populations  pharmaceutically in the twenty-first century. If that is  true, then the  established disciplinary view of health as a predominantly secondary matter of ‘low’ international politics is  mistaken. On the contrary, the social forces of health and biomedicine are powerful enough to influence the core practices of international politics – even those of security. For a discipline  long accustomed to studying macro-level processes and systemic structures, it is in the end also our knowledge of the minute morass of molecules that shapes international relations.  There will be an opportunity for networking after the talk.