Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Pharmaceutical Industry Promotion

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Pharmaceuticalization can be defined as the “process by which social, behavioural or bodily conditions are treated or deemed to be in need of treatment, with medical drugs by doctors or patients” (Abraham 2010:604). According to Abraham (2010), pharmaceuticalization is currently on an upward spiral and this dramatic increase can be attributed to five different factors. These five explanations are biomedicalism, medicalization, pharmaceutical industry promotion and marketing, consumerism, and regulatory-state ideology or policy. Each of these explanatory factors are mutually interactive but competing and it will be explained how this is in the following paragraphs.

The biomedicalization thesis is based upon the idea that advances in biomedical research can explain why there is an expansion of drug treatment in our society today. Biomedicalism theorists believe that people who were previously undiagnosed or untreated for certain disorders are now able to receive necessary medication as a result of progression in medical science, but it is clear from his article that Abraham is not a biomedicalism theorist. Abraham provides surprisingly large amounts of evidence to back up his claim that the biomedicalization thesis is not a legitimate explanation for the increase in pharmaceuticalization. Abraham criticizes the fact that a lot of the scientific literature contains uncertainties and many studies lack replicability and therefore should be rendered unreliable. He also uses the example of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) to farther emphasize his argument. He does this by making the point that the brain imaging done in these studies were supposed to be measuring the levels of dopamine in the brains of the subjects but these samples could not be taken from living people so were instead inferred from dopamine metabolites in the blood or urine. This poor quality of science that the biomedicalization thesis is based upon raises many questions and...
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