The ridiculously extreme profits of pharmaceutical corporations has allowed them to lobby legislatures and enact laws that further boost their profits — while being detrimental to the public interest. Much of this is due to drug patent monopolies, which are regularly equivalent to harmful, regressive tariffs of hundreds or thousands of percent.
While Americans debate the rising cost of health care, a new study of 30 countries over 27 years found that medical expansion has improved overall health — with one major exception.
Researchers found that increased spending on health care and increases in specialized care were both associated with longer life expectancy and less mortality in the countries studied.
But pharmaceutical industry expansion was linked to negative health effects.
“This study isn’t the first to suggest prescription drugs can pose a health risk. But it is the first to find that the growth of the pharmaceutical industry itself may be associated with worse rather than better health,” said Hui Zheng, lead author of the study and associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.
Two measures of expansion in the pharmaceutical industry — increased sales and more money spent on research and development — were linked to lower life expectancy among women aged 65 and older, and with increased mortality rates. The pharmaceutical measures were not associated with the other health outcomes studied.
The researchers ran tests to confirm that it wasn’t the other way around — that lower life expectancy and increased mortality were causing an expansion of the pharmaceutical industry. But that wasn’t the case.
That wasn’t the only negative finding about the growing drug industry.
“We found that as the pharmaceutical industry expands, there is a decrease in the beneficial impact of medical specialization on population health,” Zheng said.
This study can’t say why expansion in the pharmaceutical industry is leading to negative population health effects, Zheng said.
“It could be due to toxic side effects of drugs, doctors’ prescribing practices, patients’ misuse of prescription drugs, reasons related to pharmaceutical industry’s marketing strategies or some combination of these factors,” he said.