AASoci  Vol.2 No.4 , December 2012
Profit from Sickness: The Case of Technology-Driven Healthcare
Abstract: The increasing corporatization and growing dependence of the healthcare system on technology has brought about a radical transformation to the entire mission of the healthcare system. Based on the profit motive, the pharmaceutical and technological enterprises that hugely control the healthcare system today have so transformed the system that it has now emerged as one of the most profiteering domains. The historical tragedy is that the profit is earned over sickness. There has indeed been an attempt to generate sickness as demanded both by health care devices as well as by the pharmaceutical industries having detrimental impact on people’s right to health. Present paper, which critically questions the logic and motives of the emerging healthcare system, argues that under the contemporary neo-liberal economies, diseases and patients are objects of business interests of the largely privatized for-profit healthcare industry. Profit from these objects emerges not only through sale of drugs or cure, but also from expensive hi-tech testing and ‘treatment’ technologies. Creation of new patients by diagnosing more diseases to treat is contributed by a large medical-industrial complex today. The paper is of the view that remedies to these crises demand radical a U-turn to the system itself wherein the health care seekers rather than the health care providers would occupy the center stage.
Cite this paper: Hazarika, S. & Dutta, A. (2012). Profit from Sickness: The Case of Technology-Driven Healthcare. Advances in Applied Sociology, 2, 237-244. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2012.24031.

[1]   Abraham. J. (2002). The pharmaceutical industry as a political player. Lancet, 360, 1498-1502. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11477-2

[2]   Centre for Disease Controls and Prevention in United States (2011), National Vital Statistics Reports. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[3]   Cooke, M., Irby, D. M., Sullivan, W., & Ludmerer, K. M. (2006). American medical education 100 years after the flexner report. New England Journal of Medicine, 355, 1339-1344. doi:10.1056/NEJMra055445

[4]   Devereaux, P. J., Schünemann, H. J., Ravindran, N., Bhandari, M., Garg, A., Choi, P. et al. (2002). Comparison of mortality between private for-profit and private not-for-profit hemodi alysis centers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of American Medical Association, 288, 2449-2457. doi:10.1001/jama.288.19.2449

[5]   Davidson, L., & Greblov, G. (2005), The Pharmaceutical industry in the global economy. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[6]   Ford, N. (2003). Public health and company wealth, British Medical Journal, 326, 1296.

[7]   Fortune Magazine. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[8]   Fortune 500 Database. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[9]   Gagnon, M.-A., & Lexchin, J. (2008). The cost of pushing pills: A new estimate of pharmaceutical promotion expenditures in the United States. PLoS Medicine, 5, e1. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050001

[10]   Garg, P. P., Frick, K. D., Diener-West, M., & Powe, N. R. (1999) Effect of the ownership of dialysis facilities on patients’ survival and referral for transplantation. The New England Journal of Medicine, 341, 1653-1660

[11]   Geyman, J. P. (2003).Corporate transformation of medicine and its impact on cost and access to care, The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 16, 443-454.

[12]   Ghosh, S. (2010). Increasing trend in caesarean section delivery in India: Role of medicalisation of maternal health. Bangalore: The Institute for Social and Economic Change,.

[13]   Gray, B. H. (1986) For-profit enterprise in health care. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

[14]   Hopkins, K., & Amaral, E. (2005). The role of nonclinical factors in cesarean section rates in Brazil. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[15]   Johnston, S., Moss, K., Brown, A. (2011) The business of virtualization in research and development. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[16]   Kefauver, E. (1965) In a few hands. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

[17]   Lee, M. (2011) Designer vagina surgery: snip, stitch, kerching! URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[18]   Moynihan, R., Heath, I., & Henry, D. (2002). Selling sickness: The pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering. British Medical Journal, 324, 886-891.

[19]   NIHCM (2002). Changing patterns of pharmaceutical innovation. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[20]   Public Citizen (2003). 2002 drug industry profits: Hefty Pharmaceutical Company margins dwarf other industries. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[21]   Puliyel, J. M., & Madhavi, Y. (2008). Editorial. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 127, 1-3

[22]   Relman, A. S. (1980). The new medical-industrial complex. New England Journal of Medicine, 303, 963-970. doi:10.1056/NEJM198010233031703

[23]   Relman, A. S. (1997). Market for healthcare: Where is the patient? Clinical Chemistry, 43, 2225-2229.

[24]   Starr, P. (1082). The social transformation of American medicine. New York: Basic Books

[25]   Thamer, M., Zhang, Y., Kaufman, J., Cotter, D., Dong, F., & Hernán, M. A. (2007). Dialysis facility ownership and epoetin dosing in patients receiving hemodialysis. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 15, 1667-1674. doi:10.1001/jama.297.15.1667

[26]   Treatment action Group (2007). URL (last checked 12 September 2012).

[27]   Trouiller, P., Olliaro, P., Torreele, E., Orbinski, J., Laing, R., & Ford, N. (2002). Drug development for neglected diseases: A deficient market and a public-health policy failure. The Lancet, 359, 2188-2194. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)09096-7

[28]   United States Renal Data System (2206). Excerpts from the USRDS 2006 annual data report. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 49, S1-S296.

[29]   Weintraub, P. (2010). The Dr. who drank infectious broth, gave himself an ulcer, and solved a medical mystery. Discover Magazine.

[30]   WHO (2012) List of neglected tropical disease. URL (last checked 12 September 2012).