The pharmaceutical industry's response to the threat of bioterrorism following 9-11 invoked the rhetorical notion of kairos as an urgent and ongoing opportunity not only to protect the nation but also to improve the industry's reputation and fortify its political power. Yet the notion of kairos as seizing an advantage—grounded in modernist assumptions about agency and control—is also complicated by the case history of big pharma's response, which left the industry vulnerable to heightened and additional risks. This case history suggests that kairos can be less about seizing an advantage than about indeterminately responding to shifting, unbounded, uncertain, unpredictable, and uncontrollable risks shaped by the processes of globalization.
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