The Real Pushers
A Critical Analysis of the Canadian Drug Industry

Lexchin, Joel
Publisher:  New Star, Canada
Year Published:  1984
Pages:  272pp     Dewey:  338.476
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3230

A comprehensive analysis of the pharmaceutical drug industry in Canada.

The Real Pushers is the first comprehensive analysis of the pharmaceutical drug industry in Canada. Focusing on the power and the adverse effects of the industry, it tells the side of the story which is not well known, arguing that it is an industry dominated by foreign corporations which search out worldwide markets and profits while benefitting from the stress and disease of people who lack access to safer and more effective alternatives.

Lexchin acknowledges that drugs can plan an important role in medical treatment. He points out, however, that many of today's most serious medical problems, such as hypertension, are rooted in socio-economic and industrial stresses but are nonetheless treated with drugs. Many non-medical problems -- including family crisis, unemployment and problems related to the secondary status of women -- have increasingly been labelled in medical terms and managed with drug products. In these cases, drug consumption, health costs, and drug companies' profits all go up.

Lexchin argues that it is the expansion of the pharmaceutical markets by the multinational corporations, and not the advancement of pharmacological research per se, which explains the escalating number of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs to which the public is exposed. As in other commercial sectors, brand name marketing -- nont fundamental innovations -- is the core strategy behind the drive toward power and profits in the pharmaceutical industry.

Medical students and doctors are subjected to an edless barrage of advertising, "information, and social pressure by drug companies; the public is led by massive advertising to demand prescriptions for any ill, and the government cooperates closely with the companies.

Lexchin argues that fundamental changes are needed in this system, and in a final chapter he outlines some suggestions for new directions for the future.

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