Controversy: The Role of Big Pharmaceuticals

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Part 1:

We have been exploring the role pharmaceutical companies play in the mental health treatment process. It seems like so far the class is in agreement that Big Pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of the opportunity to over-medicalize people but are there are some excellent medications out there that can make a huge impact on the quality of life for some people.

It is interesting to think about the use of medication and the medical model from a cultural lens here and how beliefs may correlate with medication use. For example, some individuals might prefer taking a prescribed medication for mental health whereas others might prefer a more nautropathic treatment. Another thought here is that regardless of the disadvantages of medications, such as the concerns you mentioned above, there are still some benefits. However, it takes good training on the part of the physician and self-advocacy on the part of the patient and community to find the right approach for them. I agree that there must be a better way but what are alternatives to medication or advertising medication? Research and discuss.

Part 2:

“In order to understand psychotropics and psychiatric medication is to be well educated, and information from professionals to provide healthy choices. It is no easy decision when analyzing one’s medication needs, and therefore both the patient and the doctor must have evaluated all options and necessary steps.”

I agree that meds are not the only option and that it is important that the consumer / patient is aware of alternative treatments to western medicines. I also agree that self-advocacy when it comes to medication and treatment options is important. How do we empower individuals to learn more about their treatment options?

The class has been in agreement that big pharmaceutical companies have a lot of power and a lot of reach but have questioned whether this power and reach actually be used for good. What are your thoughts here? Can big pharma ads be used to help educate the public about signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and discuss VARIOUS treatment options not just meds? One approach does not work for everyone however and meds are not the only treatment option. I think it provides another great example of how a careful evaluation and consideration is necessary when it comes to medication. Often times a second opinion is needed as well.

I think the class is leaning towards a negative view of medication. Some folks have argued, me included, that sometimes meds work because they are needed and other alternatives are not sufficient (e.g., severe mental health issues that cause functional impairment and/or risk issues). A lot of times trying other alternatives (less invasive or restrictive options like psychotherapy) first can be beneficial. Ultimately we agree that we need to do what’s in the best interest of the child or adult when it comes to psychopharmalogical intervention. When the concerns start to impact the child’s self-esteem and ability to self-regulate does the class feels like a referral for psych testing would be a good compromise before administering medication? Other thoughts here?

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