If Pharma Made Trikes – “Buyer Beware”

After 10 injuries were reported, a 2010 recall of over 7 million trikes manufactured by Fisher Price took place.  It seems as if some manufacturers have come a long way and child safety standards are a top priority.  For the pharmaceutical industry, should we continue to accept “buyer beware” as the standard?

By Maria Mangicaro

Dr. David Healy’s recent post, “If Pharma Made Cars“,  crafts several very clever analogies regarding mandatory compliance of consumer safety regulations imposed on the auto and airline industries, as compared with the safety expectations of products manufactured by the tobacco and the pharmaceutical industries. [1]

Healy’s points are well made and by further exploring various concepts of consumer protection,  his analogies become much more multi-faceted for mental health consumers, advocates and lawmakers to consider.

By far, the U.S. is the global leader in the consumer protection movement.  The Consumer Bill of Rights includes eight specific guarantees:  the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the right to redress, the right to consumer education, and the right to a healthy environment. [2]

U.S. consumers are protected against deceptive business practices by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The FTC acts to protect consumers, prevent fraud and maintain competition in the marketplace.  The FTC vision is stated as:

“A U.S. economy characterized by vigorous competition among producers and consumer access to accurate information, yielding high-quality products at low prices and encouraging efficiency, innovation, and consumer choice.“[3]

The characteristics of the mental health care system deprive many individuals of this “vision” and consumerism, which in some cases is forced, is concentrated on the purchases of psychiatric services and pharmaceutical products.

 A recent resolution introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), calling for the establishment of a “Task Force on Mental Diagnosis and Illinois Law“, may help break apart psychiatry’s “monopoly of the mental illness epidemic“.   Click here to read more.

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