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J Health Soc Behav. 2004;45 Suppl:158-76.

Medicalization, markets and consumers.

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Department of Sociology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA.


This paper examines the impact of changes in the medical marketplace on medicalization in U.S. society. Using four cases (Viagra, Paxil, human growth hormone and in vitro fertilization), we focus on two aspects of the changing medical marketplace: the role of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and the emergence of private medical markets. We demonstrate how consumers and pharmaceutical corporations contribute to medicalization, with physicians, insurance coverage, and changes in regulatory practices playing facilitating roles. In some cases, insurers attempt to counteract medicalization by restricting access. We distinguish mediated and private medical markets, each characterized by differing relationships with corporations, insurers, consumers, and physicians. In the changing medical environment, with medical markets as intervening factors, corporations and insurers are becoming more significant determinants in the medicalization process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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