Modern medicine has made life more comfortable, and humans are living longer, healthier lives thanks to discoveries like penicillin to treat bacterial infections and vaccines to prevent deadly diseases like diphtheria, tuberculosis and tetanus. In 1920 there were 206,000 reported cases of diphtheria, and of those 1 5,520 deaths were reported. Between the years of 2004 to 2008 there were no reported deaths related to diphtheria. The first vaccine to treat diphtheria was created in 1921, but not widely used until around 1930. vaccineinformation. org) In 1912, the average human lived to e about 50; now, in 2012, the average life expectancy is 80 years old (demog. berkeley. edu), and I would say it is thanks, in part, to modern medicine and the development of diagnostic tools, like the EKG and life-saving devices, such as the pacemaker and the artificial heart. Whenever I have a headache or stuffy nose, I can go to the medicine cabinet and take an aspirin for the headache and a Sudafed”* for my stuffy nose, and within 30 minutes, I will start to feel better.
Some people, such as those who live with diabetes, have medication that they take on a daily basis to help eep them healthy and alive. Children are being vaccinated from birth until age 2 against diseases that killed children even 50 years ago. I can easily argue that it has been human advances in sanitation, increased food supply, improved access to water, and basic preventative medicine that have helped prolong life not Just the pharmaceuticals.
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But certainly with the readily available medications, prescription, and over-the-counter, it has helped improve our overall health, but I think that it also has turned society into hypochondriacs with all the commercials about different edications. This method of advertising is referred as Direct-to-consumers advertising (DTC advertising) and is controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals.
Most countries banned the practice in the 1940s. The direct-to-consumer market was pioneered not in a corporate boardroom, but by Joe Davis, a regular salesman who sold packaged goods. (109. com) According to a study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation completed in May of 2011 “For every dollar spent on ads for drugs, over four dollars in retail sales are garnered … new drugs that feature direct-to-consumer advertising are prescribed nine times more than their new counterparts that lack consumer advertising” (www. kff. org).
I spoke with Joeann Lawrence, who is a registered medical assistant (RMA), and asked her what she had noticed about peoples habits and requests for drugs, she states “A lot of people who I have screened would often ask for a specific drug (by name) and they would also often overstate their symptoms so hat they could receive that specific drug” (such as pain medications, but not Just limited to) she also said that the internet has become a way for more and more people to learn about these new drugs that are on the market and to misdiagnose their illnesses. Ms.
Lawrence told me about a doctor that she was assigned to and how she (the doctor) would often tell patients (when they would tell her that they had diagnosed themselves via the Internet) “Why did you bother coming in if you already diagnosed yourself? ” (Lawrence). She went on to tell me about one case that she ould recall: a patient came to the doctor and stated very emphatically that they had all the symptoms of a certain illness and needed a drug that had Just been recently advertised. It turned out that this patient actually had a more serious disease then what they thought they had.
According to “Selling Sickness: How Drug Ads Changed Health Care” by Alix Spilgel, (“npr. org”) Prescription drug spending is the third most expensive cost in our health care system. And spending seems to grow larger every year. Just last year (2008), the average American got 12 prescriptions a year, as ompared with 1992, when Americans got an average of seven prescriptions. In a decade and a half, the use of prescription medication went up 71 percent. This has added about $180 billion to our medical spending. Today, drug companies spend $4 billion a year on ads to consumers.
In 1997, the FDA rules governing pharmaceutical advertising changed, and now companies can name both the drug and what it’s for while only naming the most significant potential side effects. Since then, the number of ads has really exploded. The Nielsen Co. estimates that there’s an average of 80 rug ads every hour of every day on American television. And those ads clearly produce results: “Something like a third of consumers whoVe seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor about it,” says Julie Donohue, a professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh who is considered a leading expert on this subject.
Julie Donohue says “About two-thirds of those have asked for a prescription. And the majority of people who ask for a prescription have that request honored” (Selling Sickness, npr. com). It is far too easy to become convinced into thinking that a new rug is the only way to get better. Since the invention of pain management pills, such as oxycodone’s, which are designed to help you when you have chronic aches and pains, there has been a significant increase in the request for these types of drugs, and it has also created a black market with each pill selling for as much as $15 to $20 each.
Since the increased availability of some drugs like Pseudoephedrine, the illegal drug market has exploded since these drugs can be bought at a store without the need to go see a doctor. This has caused the United States Congress to enact a law alled Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (“CMEA”) as an amendment to the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 6, 2006, the act amended 21 U. S. C. 830, concerning the sale of pseudoephedrine-containing products (usdoJ. net).
According to: Methamphetamine Trends In the United States, a fact sheet published by the office of national drug control: A study conducted by the independent Rand Corporation in 2009, based on data from 2005, estimated the economic cost to society of methamphetamine use at between $16. 2 billion and $48. billion. The study found that most of the expenses due to meth use are a result of the “intangible burden that addiction places on dependent users and their premature mortality and from crime and criminal Justice costs (Fact Sheet pg 1).
Many states have placed limitations on the sale of pseudoephedrine-containing products, and most states also are requiring that these medications be sold behind the counter. Two states (Oregon and Mississippi) are requiring a prescription to be written. Oregon reduced the number of methamphetamine lab seizures from 400 in 2004, (the final full year before mplementation of the prescription only law) to a new low of 20 in 2009 (Fact Sheet, pg. 3). So, in this context, I would say that modern medicine has made a negative impact on life.
Why should the average person become educated about this issue? Because, as I cited before, the average American takes twelve prescriptions every year! The benefits of the prescription drugs are pretty obvious: increased lifespan, reduced pain and suffering, and cures to illnesses that would have killed us one-hundred years ago. Still Americans need to understand the risks of flooding our society with these miraculous treatments. Prescription drugs are everywhere. They are being advertised, requested, prescribed, and taken by Americans today more than ever before.
Works Cited “COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDEMIC ACT 2005 – Assessment of Annual Needs – Q. ” COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDEMIC ACT 2005 – Assessment of Annual Needs – Q&A. United States Dept of Justice, n. d. Web. 06 Oct. 2012.. “Diphtheria Vaccine Questions and Answers. ” Diphtheria Vaccine Questions and Answers. N. p. , n. d. Web. 13 Oct. 2012.. “Impact of Direct to Consumer Advertising on Prescription Drug Spending Summary of Findings. ” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. N. . , n. d. Web. 06 Oct. 2012.. Lawrence, Joeann. Personal. 05, October, 2012. Life Expectancy in the USA, 1900-98. ” Life Expectancy in the USA, 1900-98. N. p. , n. d. Web. 06 Oct. 2012.. “Methamphetamine Trends In the United States. ” Whitehouse. gov. Whitehouse. gov, 16 July 2010. Web. 06 Oct. 2012.. “Pain Clinics: What to Expect and HOW to Find one. ” WebMD. WebMD, 03 May 2005. web. 06 oct. 2012.. “Sick of Pharmaceutical Ads? Here’s Why They Won’t Go Away. ” 109. N. p. , n. d. Web. 06 Oct. 2012.. Spiegel, Alix. “Selling Sickness: How Drug Ads Changed Health care. ” NPR. NPR, 13 oct. 2009. web. 06 oct. 2012..