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Farmacia Hospitalaria

versão On-line ISSN 2171-8695versão impressa ISSN 1130-6343


MENEU, Ricard. Life medicalization and the recent appearance of “pharmaceuticalization”. Farm Hosp. [online]. 2018, vol.42, n.4, pp.174-179. ISSN 2171-8695.

Medicalization is a concern to which we have been paying attention intermittently for the past half century. However, it is increasingly difficult to look away from its multiple and ubiquitous manifestations, and therefore there is an increasingly higher number of analysis and studies about them, from the most varied perspectives, not only by healthcare literature, but also with the great contribution by social sciences such as Anthropology or Sociology.

Based on previous publications, this article offers an updated review on life medicalization in the European setting, highlighting particularly those situations where a medication is the main vehicle for medicalization. This demands a careful exploration of the “pharmaceuticalization” concept, which appeared in the past decade, and which many of the research projects with these characteristics intend to embrace.

The decentralized nature of the decisions on diagnosis and treatment requires an agreement of healthcare professionals on the presumed benefits of certain therapeutic interventions as key factor to the expansion of medicalization. Even so, there are multiple interactions and synergies between incentives and economic interests in the medicalization process, as well as bias in the generation of knowledge, the training for professionals, their need to cope with patient expectations, progressively overcoming their resolution capacities, and the mechanisms for structuring said expectations. A better understanding of the dispositifs that promote medicalization (the strategy without a strategist that becomes visible through its cumulative outcome, but is less clearly seen by the different agents, sometimes contradictory, working through it) is essential in order to limit its most undesirable expansions.

Palavras-chave : Medicalization; Pharmaceuticalization; Overutilization; Overdiagnosis; Overtreatment; Agents; Drivers.

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