( By Editor : Carol Huss )

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Section I : Introduction

The modern drug industry is a product of modern science, or what has been called Western science. It has primarily grown in Western economies. It has, had, therefore, all the characteristics of the Western Capitalistic system which focuses on quick growth, capture of new markets, increased profits, rapid development and intensive research for new products.
Drugs are an important part of modern health care systems. They are used for prevention of disease, for diagnosis (as in Xray), for cure as maintenance therapy, and for symptomatic treatment. But drugs by themselves, are not sufficient to ensure the health of any society. We ned a wider perspective of why disease occurs, what people feel about illness, and how ill health especially in poor countries multiplies because of poverty and lack of access to basic needs. Due to limited resources of poor communities and that of underdeveloped countries, it is essential that the minimum amount of drugs are used in the correct manner. One fortunate aspect of this is that nature can cure 99% of the disease conditions in the world with a minimum of 250 to 300 drugs. However, because of a combination of factors relating to the drug industry, international market economy, the medical profession, and the inherent weakness of the patient, the scene has become complicated. We nbow have a confusing array of too many drugs costing too much to the patient. In many countries, including India, the supply of drugs does not strictly match the disease patten. There are too many medicines of doubtful therapeutic value. And there is very little information available for the lay person on the correct use of medicines.
In this chapter, we will briefly outline the issues involved in the drugs scenario, and focus on what could be the appropriate use of drugs, and what could be appropriate social action against misuse of drugs and misinformation about drus. While going through these issues, the larger perspective of integrating modern drugs for healing, in harmony with other therapies, needs to be kept in the picture.

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