A Heavy Dosage: The Pharmaceutical Industry

2031 words - 8 pages

Of all the booming businesses in recent history the pharmaceutical industry makes the largest profits of any industry; making approximately three times more than the average fortune 500 company (Silverstein). At the forefront of the drug industries rise is the United States. The United States accounts for nearly half of the world’s pharmaceutical market, and the benefits are evident. The United States is seeing record high life expectancy along with an all time low death rate (“Life Expectancy at All Time High”). Countless lives have been bettered and saved because of the pharmaceutical industry and the medical advances made within. However, people must remember that the pharmaceutical industry is as much a business as anything. Like any business they are looking to profit and the best interest of the consumer is not always the top priority. Despite the opposition of eager clients, the pharmaceutical industry is in need of reform and more government regulation.
Every year 100,000 Americans die from prescription drugs; not including accidents or wrongly prescribed drugs, all these deaths are the results of side effects from properly prescribed and taken drugs (Perdomo 1). That number hasn’t gone down over the last decade and won’t decrease until action is taken. Much of this is due to insufficient testing on drugs before being released. The testing process is too quick to discover many of the long term side effects that a drug may cause. Resulting in 250-300 drugs a year approved by the FDA being recalled (Greve). The standard procedure includes three phases of testing. However, not all drugs go through all phases of testing. If the early tests are successful the FDA often approves it prematurely. Also, if a drug is a minor alteration to a current drug there is much less research and development involved (Angell 21-28). A policy called the Prescription Drug User Fee Act allows drug companies to pay the FDA to review products more quickly (Fulton 1). The dangers of a drug not being subject to thorough testing are obvious; ranging from harmful side effects, to permanent damage to patients bodies or death.
Two of the largest factors that contribute to insufficient testing of new drugs are how the testing is done and who it is carried out by. In order for the FDA to approve a drug the drug company must prove the drug is safe. Usually through multiple clinical tests, clinical testing is a crucial part of the testing process because it is where side effects are learned and discovered (Angell 27). For-profit organizations that are funded and contracted by drug companies perform the clinical testing. This screams trouble; the testing process should be carried out by a non-profit organization with no financial affiliation to drug companies. An ideal organization would be funded by the government and monitored by the FDA. Unfortunately, this is not where suspicious activity ends during the testing process. Physicians are paid to enroll patients in drug...

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