A few years ago, while I am reading Psychology Today, I was struck by an article that tackles about prescribing antidepressants to the children in America. Since I did not have much knowledge of it, I read news and articles that talk about this issue. Up until now, I still continue to research it because I wonder why America has become a massive consumer of prescription drugs.
Luckily, I found the book of Greg Critser entitled Generation RX: How Prescription Drugs Are Altering American Lives, Minds and Bodies. “It shows how shockingly little we know about the prescription drugs we take and the hazards they may pose to our health.” It discusses how Americans become dependent on prescription drugs to alleviate their discomfort. It also exposes the big pharmaceutical’s Public Relation and Marketing campaign for promoting a new drug to the consumers. It also reveals how they manipulate the public using money, media power and lobbying.
Over the past decade, the use of prescription drugs, almost all for chronic diseases, has soared. According to Critser, the Americans are more willing than ever to experiment, or, more precisely, to be experimented upon. As he stated:
“Today the expectations is that pills can and will do everything from guarding us against excesses of drink, food and tobacco, to increasing our children’s performance at school, to jump-starting our own productivity at work, to extending our very time on this mortal coil. Indeed pills – and by that I mean prescription drugs that require a physician’s signed authorization – have become interwoven with very notion of what constitutes health.”
The term Generation Rx is derived from this notion – “the generation of Americans who rebelliously experimented with drugs is now a generation upon whom drugs are experimented, with barely a squeak of protest.”
In pharmaceutical industry, the term pharmaceutical tribes emerge. These are the three distinct audiences for treatment of chronic disease. First is the Tribe of High Performance Youth – children and adolescents who are medicated for depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Bipolar disorder, and a range of other psychiatric and behavioral problems. Second is the Middle years tribe or Tribe of Productivity and Comfort – it consist of the middle-aged, those at the mid-to-late points in their careers as parents and/or earners. This tribe takes prescription drugs such as anti-depressants (Prozac, Paxi); cholesterol reducers (Lipitor); gastrointestinal agents (Prolosec); painkillers (Vicodin); libido enhancers (Libido). And lastly the Tribe of High Performance Aging (elders) – they take prescription drugs not only to alleviate the discomfort of aging but also to extend their lives.
The book is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is entitled Unbound: The Strange and Very American Liberation of Big Pharma. It tackles the history on how the big pharma become aggressive in American society. It presents how the pharmaceutical industry gained tremendous financial and political clout. The second chapter is called We Love it! : How the New Pharma Used Its New Muscle to Create a New…You. It tackles the PR and Marketing strategy of the big pharma. It also shows how they have become “the business of branding medical conditions”. The third chapter is entitled The Full Price: What Living in Pharma’s World Means for Our Bodies. It tackles the side effects of drugs (especially drugs that are not fully tested) to our bodies. The fourth chapter is named as The End of the Great Buffer: Why We Are More Vulnerable. It presents the relationship between the U.S. government and the big pharmaceutical companies and how it affects the consumers. The last chapter is called Independence for Generation Rx: What Can Be Done. This last chapter gives advice and recommendations on how to stand on our rights as consumers.
Though the Philippines have a different set up with regards to this matter, I believe we still need this information for awareness and empowerment as consumers. This knowledge will helps us think critically and help make firm decisions with regards to our health. Through this book, we are not getting easily intimidated with the big pharma’s PR and marketing machinery.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.