Science, Medicine and Marketing: An abandoned treatment for critical illness

The Management and Marketing (MM) Group at the Essex Business School warmly invite you to the edition of the Research Seminar Series.

  • Wed 9 Feb 22

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Online

    Join this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Dr Simon Carmel and Dr Erik Jacobi, Essex Business School, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Management and Marketing Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Atika Kemal

The Management and Marketing Group at the Essex Business School welcomes fellow EBS colleagues Dr Simon Carmel and Dr Erik Jacobi as they explores the topic of the nexus of biomedical research, pharmaceutical industry and clinical practice.

Seminar abstract

Our intention in this seminar is to examine the nexus of biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, and clinical practice.

Within critical and sociological study of the pharmaceutical industry ideas such as “pharmaceuticalisation” or “disease mongering”(Payer 1992), defined as “widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments”(Moynihan et al., 2002), have become well established.

Our aim is to build on the sociological analysis of the pharmaceutical industry by an explicit focus on its impact on the clinical domain at a micro-level. We examine localised clinical decision-making in a highly acute and technologically advanced field.

Our study is of a novel treatment for severe sepsis, a serious condition requiring admission to critical care. A diagnosis of severe sepsis is clinically useful for critical care practitioners as it enables patients to be placed on a particular treatment protocol. Such a protocol is of interest to pharmaceutical companies as from their point of view there would be considerable financial rewards in developing an intervention which is specified within it.

However, we shall show that developing interventions for subsequent incorporation into such protocols is not straightforward and, indeed, our study is of a case where this demonstrably failed.

We adopt a philosophical position of “practical constructivism” (Kjellberg and Helgesson, 2006) –that is, ontological relativism and epistemological realism–to examine this case. From a practical constructivist point of view sepsis can be construed in several ontologically distinct ways (cf. Mol, 2002):1.Clinicalsepsis, defined by the clinical situation including certain biomedical data and markers. This informs clinical practice, that is medical and nursing treatments(such as the “sepsis protocol”)2.Scientific-pharmacological sepsis, whereby particular pharmaceutical agents can be developed and subsequently tested in scientific experiments (e.g. randomised, controlled trials).3.Pharmaceutical-marketingsepsis: a disease which is “proven” to respond to particular pharmaceutical interventions.

The objective of the pharmaceutical marketing is to align its sepsis to the scientific-pharmacological sepsis, and thereby the clinical sepsis. In the case we shall explore, this objective failed.


How to join this seminar

This seminar is free to attend with no need to register in advance.

We warmly invite you to join us online on Wednesday 9 February 2022 at 1pm.

Why not join along with your friends, colleagues or classmates.


Speaker bio

Dr Simon Carmel

Dr Simon Carmel is a Lecturer in Work and Organisation Studies and Deputy Head of Group in the Management and Marketing Group at Essex Business School.

Intellectual interests are in professional knowledgeability and its relationship to organisations, with empirical studies to date on health care, particularly intensive and critical care.


Dr Erik Jacobi

Dr Erik Jacobi is a Lecturer in Marketing and Associate Director of Education in the Management and Marketing Group at Essex Business School.

Intellectual interests are in marketing strategy development, especially with regard to the opportunities and challenges created by the presence of a multiplicity of evaluative frameworks.


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