Pharmaceutical Industry

Sabreen Hussain, Writer

Today, approximately 133 million Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness. That accounts for about half of the U.S. population, with the number expected to reach 170 million by 2030. The most common illnesses include heart disease, cancer, obesity, the flu, diabetes, neurological disorders, and respiratory health conditions. The majority of the time, the only solution to these afflictions is pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceuticals are chemical substances used to treat, cure, and diagnose a disease, or promote well-being. The industry faces many issues when it comes to its lack of transparency, agility, and rate. The process of developing and pricing drugs is often shrouded in secrecy, making it difficult for patients and policymakers to fully understand the costs involved. With a rising economy, many can’t afford the slight advantage that health insurance provides when it comes to medicine. According to the Commonwealth fund survey conducted in 2022, 112 million Americans struggle to pay for healthcare and 43% of working-age adults are inadequately insured. 

The cost of prescription drugs has been a major concern for much of the U.S. population, many believe that the pharmaceutical industry is taking advantage of patients by charging exorbitant prices. Some companies have been accused of “price gouging” by significantly increasing the cost of drugs, frequently overnight, putting a burden on patients and the healthcare system. Since the industry has a significant amount of financial power and influence, they are often accused of shaping policies and regulations in its favor, potentially putting profits ahead of public health. Critics also claim that pharma is too focused on developing drugs for common, more profitable conditions while neglecting those with rare diseases who have limited treatment options.

Yet, the pharmaceutical industry still has a positive impact – including the expansion of vitalizing or life-improving medication, its opportunities for jobs or economic welfare, and its contribution to medical research and innovation. Other alternatives to this solution involve holistic medicine, “An attitudinal approach to health care rather than a particular set of techniques. It addresses the psychological, familial, societal, ethical and spiritual as well as biological dimensions of health and illness.” This option treats the whole person and not just their symptoms by focusing on the root cause of the illness. Using natural remedies, such as herbs and acupuncture, helps patients recognize the importance of personal responsibility in health. By making other possible treatments for sickness more accessible, we can more efficiently protect public health.