A molecular monopoly? HPV testing, the Pap smear and the molecularisation of cervical cancer in the USA

Hogarth, Stuart, Hopkins, Michael M and Rodriguez, Victor (2012) A molecular monopoly? HPV testing, the Pap smear and the molecularisation of cervical cancer in the USA. Sociology of Health and Illness, 34 (2). pp. 234-250. ISSN 0141-9889

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DNA-based molecular testing for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has emerged as a novel approach to cervical cancer screening in the context of well entrenched prior technology, the Pap smear. This paper seeks to elucidate the process of molecularisation (Clarke et al. 2003) in the context of screening programmes. We illustrate how, although Pap has long been problematised and could be seen as a competing technological option, the existing networks, and regime for Pap were important in supporting the entrenchment process for the artefacts, techniques, and new diagnostics industry entrant Digene, associated with the new test. The paper provides insights into how molecularisation of screening unfolds in a mainstream market. We reveal an incremental, accretive, rather than revolutionary process led by new commercial interests in an era when diagnostic innovation is increasingly privatised. We show Digene's reliance on patents, an international scientific network, and their position as an obligatory passage point in the clinical research field with regard to the new technology's role, as well as controversial new marketing practices. The paper is based on a mixed method approach, drawing on a wide range of contemporary sources (including patents, statutory filings by companies, scientific literature, and news sources) as well as interviews.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Michael Hopkins
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:29
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2013 09:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16738
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