The New (Improved..?) Roles of Drugs

Greenslit’s article raises interesting questions about the ways both institutions and individuals appropriate drugs for their own use and to achieve a variety of ends. In their growing new role as consumer products, it seems to some extent unavoidable that the purpose of drugs will stray from its origins as a direct treatment to a specific health issue requiring treatment. This trend has created many of the questions we have been attempting to answer regarding how to determine which uses of drugs are ethical and how we should regulate them to ensure their use stays limited to these ways – or if we should do so at all. Greenslit demonstrates the particular danger posed for our conceptions of mental illnesses, which by nature are extremely vulnerable to the external influences such as marketing and branding that are increasing as drugs become a commodity. Further, as seen previously in the course, the greatest blockbuster drugs are rarely even treatments for life-threatening or –altering health problems; the amount of the industry’s focus, money, and time that is wasted on constantly developing new ‘diseases’ from minor, commonplace complaints in order to sell profitable drugs to treat them is one clearly unethical result of this process. The transformation of medicine into an increasingly accessible market product, being used for differing purposes within myriad personal and public discourses, has facilitated the loss of a single genuine aim and ethic for the healthcare system to strive for. Whether this is something we should embrace or resist remains a contestable subject from many angles. 

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