Effects of the Pharmaceutical Industry on the Health Care System

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The current model of the pharmaceutical market creates a conflict between the competing interests of the patients and the pharmaceutical industry where the increasing market expansion and profitability of the industry is happening at the cost of patients’ ability to receive the most appropriate and effective treatment. The interests of the Pharmaceutical industry outcompeted the interests of patients and public health providers by the increased integration and resulting influence of the pharmaceutical industry in all aspects of healthcare and medical research. This increased influence of the pharmaceutical companies allowed them to expand rapidly through mainly two complementary processes: Disease-mongering and “pharmaceuticalisation”. Disease-mongering is described as efforts to enlarge the market of a treatment by either narrowing the definition of health so more people seek medical intervention or by broadening the definition of disease so milder symptoms and health conditions now require medical intervention. Pharmaceuticalisation is the increasing belief of individuals and healthcare providers that the best method of treating most ailments is only through a pharmaceutical solution. (Applbaum 84-102) These two processes have led to an environment where the prescription of a specific treatment does not depend on how effective it is but rather how well the manufacturer of the treatment has marketed their brand in comparison to other treatments. The total spending on pharmaceuticals across OECD countries is estimated to be more than 700 billion USD in 2009. (OECD 7.4) This incredible amount of revenue and wealth gives the pharmaceutical industry an equally vast amount of power and ability to influence.

Competition in the pharmaceutical industry

Free-market advocates claim that competition results in the best possible outcome for all parties involved. Perfect competition is claimed to lead to the best product for the consumer and it’s also supposed to



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