Medicalization, Markets and Consumers* PETER CONRAD Brandeis University VALERIE LEITER Simmons College Journal of Health and Social Behavior 2004, Vol 45 (Extra Issue): 158-176 This paper examines the impact of changes in the medical marketplace on med- icalization in U S. society. Usingfour cases (Viagra, Paxil, human growth hor- mone and in vitro fertilization), we focus on two aspects of the changing med- ical marketplace: the role of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and the emergence ofprivate medical markets. We demonstrate how con- sumers 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, con- sumers, and physicians. In the
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