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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.

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Consumer Medicine Challenges National Governance of Patient Rights

Consumer medicine has many dimensions. Services, patients, professionals and products cross borders. Even though concrete volumes are still unknown, it is an increasing phenomenon with both positive and negative implications. The positive is that people have a choice. The negative, related to treatments abroad, is that they escape national oversight and governance of health services which are built to serve the health system and its financing on the one hand, and to protect patients' rights on the other hand. The same applies for medical products ordered over the internet. European Union member states regulate pharmaceuticals and medical devices, but direct-to-consumer marketed genetic tests lack control.

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