IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The debate about the funding of Herceptin: A case study of ‘countervailing powers’

Listed author(s):
  • Gabe, Jonathan
  • Chamberlain, Kerry
  • Norris, Pauline
  • Dew, Kevin
  • Madden, Helen
  • Hodgetts, Darrin
Registered author(s):

    In December 2008 the newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand bypassed the agency that negotiates with manufacturers about the cost of medicines and agreed to fund Herceptin for women with early stage breast cancer for a twelve months course of treatment. This paper describes the unfolding of this decision and seeks to explain it in terms of the theory of countervailing powers, which has recently been applied to understand the rapid growth of medicines and the governance of the pharmaceutical industry. We explore the role of various actors in this debate about Herceptin funding, drawing on documentary analysis based on a systematic search of journals, websites and media databases. The case of Herceptin both confirms and questions the propositions of countervailing powers theory. On the one hand the manufacturers of the drug proved to be highly influential in their attempts to get Herceptin funded and were generally supported by consumer groups. On the other hand some scientists and regulators attempted to challenge the power of the manufacturers, with the regulators not showing signs of corporate bias as one might expect. Groups did not, as has been proposed, exert power monolithically, with several groups exhibiting opposing factions. The media, ignored in this literature, are considered as a potential countervailing force in the debate. In the end the government bypassed the recommendation of its regulators, thereby undermining the latter's efforts to act as a countervailing power.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 12 ()
    Pages: 2353-2361

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2353-2361
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.09.009
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Hedgecoe, Adam, 2005. "'At the point at which you can do something about it, then it becomes more relevant': Informed consent in the pharmacogenetic clinic," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1201-1210, September.
    2. Busfield, Joan, 2010. "'A pill for every ill': Explaining the expansion in medicine use," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 934-941, March.
    3. Benelli, Eva, 2003. "The role of the media in steering public opinion on healthcare issues," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 179-186, February.
    4. Sismondo, Sergio, 2008. "How pharmaceutical industry funding affects trial outcomes: Causal structures and responses," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1909-1914, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2353-2361. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.