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The Role of Big Pharma

Updated on July 9, 2017

Big Pharma in the U.S. and Abroad

Big Pharma has come a long way in the U.S. and abroad. Japan has a very high number of suicides per capita. Japanese people there never knew about mild depression. Big Pharma educated Japan about mild depression and has now been very successful in selling anti-depressants to the Japanese people living in Japan. In recent years, Japan’s percentage of suicides has dropped. Yet, suicide is still a big concern there. In Japan, this reduction in suicides over the last several years may be due to pharmaceutical companies educating Japan about mild depression and about selling anti-depressants to the Japanese people there in Japan.

Back in 1999, Big Pharma transformed the way Japanese people living in Japan thought about depression. Before that time, the people of Japan had not known about mild depressive disorders. “Japan had become a proving ground for … the global expansion of Western psychopharmacology.” (Shulz, 2004, p.1)

It is true, though, that many people do require prescription drugs to live and to be healthy. These medications help people to live more normal lives, be healthier, and help to keep many people alive – such as medications for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

Big Pharma is charging many people with way too high of prices for their medications that they need to live and live feeling well. The whole field of health has gone way too high on their costs. It is like a domino effect. Doctors charge more. Hospitals charge more. Nursing homes charge more. Insurance companies charge higher premiums. Pharmacies charge more for prescriptions. Therapy costs are high and continue to go up. Costs of medical and mental health prescriptions and health care are high, especially for chronic conditions.

At the same time, Big Pharma is getting rich off the American people. There have been many instances where Big Pharma has first come up with new medications and then informed the public of new illnesses and disorders that require these medications. It seems that "Big Pharma commonly invents ‘diseases’ and ‘disorders’ to conveniently fit new products it is anxious to market, ideally as blockbusters. Medical ailments therefore frequently revolve around the pill-taking, rather than vice versa." (Boggs, 2015a, p. 526)

Pharmaceutical Companies are Necessary, but Changes Need to be Made

Conclusions are that we know that pharmaceutical companies are a necessity and that there are many, many prescription drugs on the market today that has been extremely beneficial to the livelihood and health of many people. At the same time, conclusions have been drawn stating that the FDA is not doing its job well enough to ensure that our prescription drugs are safe. Many of the drugs on the market today may do what the advertisements say they will do, but many of these drugs come with serious side effects.

Also, I think that the costs have gone way too high which forces many people (young and old alike) to do without necessary medication. This causes poor health, higher medical costs, and a poor prognosis for individuals and families.

I believe that there are prescription drugs on the market that should be taken off the market. These are medications that have serious side effects, physically, mentally, or both. Some of these drugs are health risks in themselves for the person taking them. Other drugs, such as Prozac and other mind-altering prescription drugs that cause people to change their thinking and has caused many self-harm, violence against others, and suicide and murder. These prescription drugs need to be taken off the market. It seems to me that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is not doing all that they could and should be doing to ensure that only the safest drugs that provide health benefits to people are on the market. When I see a commercial about a prescription drug and the advertisements lists so many very bad and dangerous side effects, I think that people should not take those drugs at all. Many of these prescription drugs should be taken off the market. Big Pharma is making huge amounts of money from their sale, and so are other medical personnel who write prescriptions for these drugs.

I also agree with the conclusion that there are way too many children being diagnosed as ADHD and given Ritalin or another prescription drug. Many of us agree that these medications are overmedicating many children so that they are too tired and listless to participate or to play. We also agree that there are children out there who do have ADHD and do better when placed on ADHD medication. When on these medications, these children should be watched daily for any changes in health, mood, or behavior, and to inform the child’s doctor as soon as a negative change in behavior occurs.

Lingering Questions

Will better and safer prescription drugs come out of pharmaceutical companies that work in helping people who live with schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar illness, depression, autism, agoraphobia, and other mental disorders?

Will FDA begin monitoring Big Pharma again, regulating the system, and ensuring that the people are getting safe drugs that do work as they are intended to work for the person?

Will Big Pharma make it so that extremely important prescription drugs that are so necessary for many to continue to live and to live well become cost effective so that poor people who need those drugs are able to obtain them as they need them?

What is Congresses role in all of this? Will the government step in to ensure that safer, effective, prescription drugs are made cost effective so that low-income people can get the medications that they need to live? Many people must do without their necessary medications in order to pay the rent and obtain food. Prices keep going up, up, and up in all areas of the health industry (medical and mental). Where will it all stop? In the future, will people of all socioeconomic status be able to obtain the prescription drugs that they truly need for good health, productivity, happiness, and for life? I hope so.


Boggs, C. Professor, Dept. of Social Sciences. (2015, May 1). The medicalized

society. Critical sociology. Vol. 41(3). ISSN: 0896-9205. Downloaded from at Ashford University.

Shulz, K. (2004, August). Did antidepressants depress Japan? The New York

Times. Retrieved:



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