Security_Dialogue-2014-Elbe-0967010614530072.pdf (960.12 kB)
Securing circulation pharmaceutically: antiviral stockpiling and pandemic preparedness in the European Union
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 17:36 authored by Stefan ElbeStefan Elbe, Anne Roemer-MahlerAnne Roemer-Mahler, Christopher Long
Governments in Europe and around the world amassed vast pharmaceutical stockpiles in anticipation of a potentially catastrophic influenza pandemic. Yet the comparatively ‘mild’ course of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic provoked considerable public controversy around those stockpiles, leading to questions about their cost–benefit profile and the commercial interests allegedly shaping their creation, as well as around their scientific evidence base. So, how did governments come to view pharmaceutical stockpiling as such an indispensable element of pandemic preparedness planning? What are the underlying security rationalities that rapidly rendered antivirals such a desirable option for government planners? Drawing upon an in-depth reading of Foucault’s notion of a ‘crisis of circulation’, this article argues that the rise of pharmaceutical stockpiling across Europe is integral to a governmental rationality of political rule that continuously seeks to anticipate myriad circulatory threats to the welfare of populations – including to their overall levels of health. Novel antiviral medications such as Tamiflu are such an attractive policy option because they could enable governments to rapidly modulate dangerous levels of (viral) circulation during a pandemic, albeit without disrupting all the other circulatory systems crucial for maintaining population welfare. Antiviral stockpiles, in other words, promise nothing less than a pharmaceutical securing of circulation itself.
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