Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Pill for every Ill?

‘A pill for every ill’ was a paper published in the March edition of the Journal of Social Science and Medicine. Written by Professor Joan Busfield from the University of Essex, it states that the NHS prescription bill has exploded in the past 20 years from £4 billion in the early 1990’s to around £18 billion at the present time. This means that the number of prescribed medicines per head has risen from 8 per person to more than 16 per year in the past two decades.

Prof Busfield cites the pharmaceutical industry as the main reason for why this escalation has come about. According to the author, the pharmaceutical industry has recognised that in order to maintain steady growth and profitability in the future, it needs to expand its markets.

Therefore in addition to treating recognised illnesses, the industry is creating ‘new disease’ categories by prescribing normal, healthy individuals with drugs for naturally occurring problems such as sexual dysfunctions.

The report also suggests that the general public have lost their sense of stoicism, and have become more demanding in recent years. Michael Sumners, the vice-chairman of the Patients Association, believes people are generally reluctant to tolerate any discomfort, seeking a drug solution for even the slightest of ailments.

Furthermore, it seems many people no longer accept what they are told by medical professionals, and use the internet to find solutions for their health problems.

(Journal of Social Science and Medicine, March 2010; Daily Telegraph, March 2010; The Observer, 28 March 2010)

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