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Corruption Of The Pharmaceutical Industry In America

2914 words - 12 pages

"In the past two decades or so, health care has been commercialized as never before, and professionalism in medicine seems to be giving way to entrepreneurialism," commented Arnold S. Relman, professor of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School (Wekesser 66). This statement may have a great deal of bearing on reality. The tangled knot of insurers, physicians, drug companies, and hospitals that we call our health system are not as unselfish and focused on the patients' needs as people would like to think. Pharmaceutical companies are particularly ruthless, many of them spending millions of dollars per year to convince doctors to prescribe their drugs and to convince consumers that their specific brand of drug is needed in order to cure their ailments. For instance, they may present symptoms that are perfectly harmless, and lead potential citizens to believe that, because of these symptoms, they are "sick" and in need of medication. In some instances, the pharmaceutical industry in the United States misleads both the public and medical professionals by participating in acts of both deceptive marketing practices and bribery, and therefore does not act within the best interests of the consumers.

In America today, many people are in need of medical help. In fact,the Federal Trade Commission estimates that 75% of the population complain of physical problems (Federal Trade Commission 9). They complain, for example, of fatigue, colds, headaches, and countless other "ailments." When these symptoms strike, 65% purchase over-the counter, or OTC, drugs. In order to take advantage of this demand, five billion dollars is spent by the pharmaceutical industry on marketing each year . This marketing, usually in the form of advertisements, often distorts facts and makes necessity for drug treatment seem greater.

Recently, both the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association called for a limitation of pharmaceutical industry's flamboyant marketing procedures (Payer 66). Despite this, the industry did not alter its ways, maintaining that its ad campaigns were "educational," and that people were able to make their own decisions about what they purchased (Payer 66). However, it is evident that the advertisements produced by the pharmaceutical industry are designed for the very purpose of making it difficult for people to make these decisions independently. This marketing produces a large number of often deceptive, misleading tactics which have a large influence on both consumers and medical practitioners. The chief beneficiaries of this marketing are not the consumers but the pharmaceutical companies themselves.

The pharmaceutical industry uses more intensive, widespread advertisements than any other industry in the United States (Federal Trade Commission 11). According to James Greenan, former presiding officer of the Federal Trade Commission, the industry's ads "usually function to present a problem-solution equation...

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