There are many interactions between the U.S. health care system and the biomedical industry. Both are motivated by profit and formal and informal partnerships between the industries have influenced various developments. Two historical trends in this relationship are the privatization of biomedicine and the rise of natural products and practices outside of mainstream medicine. The privatization of biomedicine and biological chemicals represents a distinct change from the scientific commons which existed up until the twentieth century (Yi, 2009). A more recent historical trend has been a rise in the popularity of natural products. This is related to resurgence in traditional medicine and herbal medications. It may also be a response to perceived lack of trust many people have of “big pharma” or the large companies that are compose the traditional pharmaceutical industry. The biomedical industry has responded to the interest in natural products beginning in the 1990s, when technology made it possible to isolate and manufacture herbal supplements on a mass scale (David, Wolfender & Dias, 2015). Thanks to the previous trend in the privatization of biomedicine this trade is very profitable. Today “natural product discovery is remerging as a reputable source of current drugs on the market… herbal-based phytopharmaceuticals representing a significant share of the total world pharmaceutical market” (David et al., 299). The impact of the biomedical industry providing natural supplements and preparations has been a rise in treatments outside of accepted medical practice, including self-medicating. This can be harmful and even deadly. The impact of the privatization of biomedicine in the current delivery of health care is complicated. Some health care providers profit from it, such as those who receive a commission or benefits for prescribing those biomedicines from the manufacturer. For the patients it can result in a lack of affordability in accessing medications. This is because the privatization has also increased the costs in comparison to a system where the public good of medicines are the priority. Trends in the biomedical industry impact nursing practice. A belief in natural products and practices which use them can displace adherence to education and care instructions provided by health practitioners, disrupting nursing goals of best patient outcomes.

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  • David, B., Wolfender, J. L., & Dias, D. A. (2015). The pharmaceutical industry and natural products: historical status and new trends. Phytochemistry Reviews, 14(2), 299-315.
  • Yi, D. (2009). The scientific commons in the marketplace: the industrialization of biomedical materials at the New England Enzyme Center, 1963–1980. History and Technology, 25(1), 69-87.