Consumer Medicine

image of Consumer Medicine

The contributions in this book all address an important area relating to the delivery of medical services, namely the development of consumer medicine. The changing dynamics of consumer medicine are explored through two perspectives: genetic self-testing and cross-border medical treatment. Both genetic self-testing and cross-border medical treatment offer a number of opportunities, both for producers and consumers of goods and services. At the same time, however, a number of important questions arise as to the limits and regulations that should be in place to protect consumers and patients, and assure that the products and services that are being offered are of good quality and do not offer false or misleading information as to their efficacy or significance in helping patients and consumers. The role of the state and supra-national organizations is by no means self-evident within this changing environment in that on the one hand, this process has been supported by these same authorities, and on the other hand, they are also trying to control and limit the extent to which it develops and undermines their sovereignty. This dual role has created tensions between the development of consumer medicine and the consequences that authorities must deal with as a result of this development.



The State and the Infertile Patient Looking for Treatment Abroad: a Difficult Relationship

Cross-border reproductive care (more commonly called "reproductive tourism") refers to the phenomenon of people travelling from one country where treatment is unavailable for them to a country where they can obtain infertility treatment. Such cross-border movements for medical services have existed for decades as the history of abortion shows. The phenomenon attracted a lot of attention because the media focussed on rather extreme, extraordinary or strange cases of medically assisted reproduction. To name just a few: a 59-year-old British woman going to Italy to get pregnant, a 62-year-old French woman crossing the Atlantic ocean to carry donor eggs fertilised by her brother's sperm, a British couple going to Spain for social sex selection etc. This image, however, is strongly distorted. Recent studies indicate that the overwhelming majority of instances of reproductive travelling is done by "normal" people for "standard" in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).


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