9_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and Leiter

9_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and...

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MEDICALIZATION, MARKETSAND CONSUMERS medical service or treatment remains, a private medical market may evolve. Private medical markets emerge when an available medical intervention-frequently medical technology or an "off-label" use of an approved drug- meets consumers willing to pay out of their pockets to receive treatment. Such markets are sustained by consumer demand, and they can be expanded by increasing the availability of the intervention, reducing the cost of the treat- ment, or expanding the range of uses or target populations. Some of these interventions can be seen as medical enhancements ratherthan treatments for a disease, but this is a slippery slope. This commercialization of medicine has been well-developed in cosmetic surgery (Sullivan 2001), but it exists in other areas as well. The relation of increasing medicalization and private markets for biomedical enhance- ments and technology are illustrated through two cases: the use of human growth hormone for idiopathic shortness and in vitro fertiliza- tion for infertility.
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