Dangerous Drugs: Doctors, Pain and the Politics of Blame

Colloquium with

Andrea Tone,
McGill University

“Dangerous Drugs: Doctors, Pain and the Politics of Blame”

The opiate epidemic has claimed hundreds and thousands of lives and put clinicians on the defensive as “enabling” doctors are blamed, in the news and in court rooms, for overprescribing dangerous drugs.  This talk explores how this narrative of blame has framed responses to the opiate epidemic and the challenges it has posed to clinicians who treat pain, a medical practice already susceptible to criticism because of its explicitly subjective character in our age of EBM.   Finally, by situating the opiate crisis in a broader context this talk will examine how decisions regarding the therapeutic value of drugs are historically contingent, inseparable from the political and social views that inform them.

Andrea Tone is Professor of History and the Canada Research Chair in the Social History of Medicine. She holds joint appointments in the Faculties of Medicine and Arts at McGill University. She has published or edited five books, including The Age of Anxiety and Devices and Desires, which inspired the Emmy-award documentary The Pill. In 2011, she received the American Psychiatric Association’s Benjamin Rush Prize for outstanding contributions to the history of psychiatry and in 2017 was elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

This event is co-sponsored with the  Science and Technology Studies Program and the Department of English Language & Literature Visiting Speaker Series