Are you sure you want to delete this post?
This is one topic that really gets to me because I have a degree in Healthcare Management and was intending on going into "the field" until I realized how corrupt and inhumane the entire system is. I took many classes that focused on the marketing of drugs and other medical equipment to maximize the highest profit possible. Needless to say, I got the degree but didn't last in the field longer than three months before I walked out of the job.
Would you be surprised if I told you that Big Pharma companies spend more than twice as much on advertising as they do on "research and development"? The latest numbers show that for every one dollar spent on R&D for a particular drug, $19 dollars are spent on advertising. Not just that, but most R&D typically comes up with very minor variations to drugs that already exist and there hasn't been a major drug breakthrough, i.e. penicillin, in many years.
The legislation that created Medicare Part D is the sole reason why we can't negotiate with other countries. Big Pharma was very persistent on that. What's even more crazy is that Canada buys those same drugs from Big Pharma for a fraction of the price because they have cost controls, but Americans have to spend twenty times as much because we Americans love the "free market" so much. Unfortunately the free market in this case means that we get charged a whole lot more than every other country in the world for medication that American countries come up with.
Another badly needed reform is the patent life time. Why do these companies that come up with a variant of an already existing drug get a ten year monopoly on it? I can see if they came up with a breakthrough drug, but mixing the cocktail around and saying that it's a brand new drug shouldn't get that length of a patent.
You are correct that Americans use more drugs than any other country in the world. I would even take the "per capita" out of that sentence. And yes, advertising is the main reason for that. Americans are convinced that a pill will cure all of their aches and pains. What ever happened to diet and exercise?