Changing patterns of pharmaceutical practice in the United States

Nancy Vuckovic, Mark Nichter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the United States, contradictions related to medicine use abound in a social environment in which the pursuit of health has become a cultural project. In a marketplace where over half a million health products are available, choices at once seem to foster agency and encourage dependency on medical fixes. The aggressive marketing of medicines as indispensable commodities co-exits with rising concerns among the lay population about what is safe in the short- and long-term. In this paper we broadly consider medication-related practice in the United States as it is affected by social, cultural, and political-economic factors. We direct attention to changes in medicine use related to product proliferation, lowered thresholds of discomfort, the economics of health care, and a revival of the self-help ethic. We also consider the manner in which the demand for and use of medications reflect deeply embedded cultural ideals and emergent perceptions of need. We juxtapose two trends in American thinking about medicines: (1) the perception that 'more is better,' associated with cultural impatience with illness; and (2) a growing doubt about medicine necessity, safety, and efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1302
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume44
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1997

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medicine
pharmaceutical
drug
Medicine
Economics
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Social Environment
Health
Politics
Marketing
Ethics
medication
self help
Delivery of Health Care
self-help
Safety
ethics
health
economics
economic factors

Keywords

  • Alternative medicine
  • Pharmaceutical practice
  • Popular health culture
  • Self-medication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

Changing patterns of pharmaceutical practice in the United States. / Vuckovic, Nancy; Nichter, Mark.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 44, No. 9, 05.1997, p. 1285-1302.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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