Definition Essay -Dan Primavera

A term often used to describe the prescription drug, Prozac, is that it is referred to as a “white drug.” This term is meant to reflect upon the prescribing trends of the drug and how it is typically prescribed to Caucasian persons rather than different minority groups. Being that Prozac is a drug meant to help any person who has conditions that require its’ medicinal aid, I feel that it is ridiculous for any person to be given a drug that may not be as effective just because of their race.

Prozac has been around since 1987 and has since been one of the more profitable prescription drugs out. Also, Prozac is considered to be one of the most affective prescription anti-depressants. On top of its’ great effectiveness for treating depression, Prozac is also helpful with a few other conditions, with almost no side effects, and a fairly low chance of overdose.

To clear up why Prozac being a “white drug” is in need of defining I would like to just lay out the exact medical uses of the drug. With this I would like to prove that there is no reason for it to not be prescribed to any person with conditions warranting the prescription.  The medical conditions warranting a Prozac prescription are: major depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), panic attacks, bulimia, premenstrual disorder with unhappiness, bipolar depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anorexia nervosa, and these are not all of them (WebMD). Seeing that there are that many medical reasons to be prescribed this drug, it is very hard for one to understand how the drug is almost rationed to only white people.

There have been many medical studies that follow up on this idea that Prozac is typically not prescribed to minority groups, mostly just white people. There are some arguments for financial or insurance factors that prevent many from getting Prozac, but they do not account for enough of these cases to not consider this situation as odd (this financial/insurance argument will be addressed in my rebuttal essay). At the University of Michigan, there was a study done to address this topic and the results were not that surprising after already reading up on this subject. The study found that Hispanic persons and respectively, African Americans with depression types of disorders, were less likely to be given prescribed antidepressants. The study also stated that a white person with the same symptoms or conditions would be prescribed Prozac with relatively no problem. Michigan’s study also went into insurance problems that found people who are under the insurance of Medicaid or Medicare were also not likely to be prescribed antidepressant medications. Seeing that the study pointed out the race factors of prescribing Prozac and the insurance side of the argument makes it a great study to reference. Being that those who are recipients of Medicaid or Medicare are also unlikely to receive Prozac can sort of also be thought of as a counter because in the studies where any inquiries are made into what percentage of white people receive Prozac compared to minority groups who don’t, because maybe a high percentage of the minority groups are under those two healthcare companies.

The team carrying out this research conducted a very in depth study into Prozac being a “white drug” which spanned from 1993-2007. The researchers pulled information such as who was receiving antidepressant prescriptions, and which antidepressants they were given. Michigan’s researchers found that, “race, payment source, physician ownership status and geographical region influenced whether physicians decided to prescribe antidepressants in the first place.” The most influential findings in the above statements on whether or not Prozac is typically just prescribed to white people are, race, physician ownership status, and payment source. White people were found to be recipients of antidepressants (specifically Prozac) 1.52 more times than minority groups even if they showed the same medical conditions warranting an anit-depressant such as Prozac.

Being that Prozac is an anti depressant, and a highly effective antidepressant, there should be no reason that race should prevent any person from receiving a prescription to it. Looking at every medical condition that warrants a prescription to Prozac, and when a doctor sees those same conditions in a patient, it should be almost automatic for the patient to be prescribed Prozac (as long as their insurance and health conditions are able to cope with this type of drug).  Because many have previous conditions that may conflict with the effectiveness of receiving Prozac, it is understandable that these persons may factor into the percentage of minority groups’ people who do not get prescribed Prozac, but hopefully this is a factor that is taken out of most studies.

Antidepressants are drugs that are meant to help a person with conditions such as major depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), panic attacks, bulimia, premenstrual disorder with unhappiness, bipolar depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anorexia nervosa. When looking at all of these factors that could negatively harm ones health, how is it possible to deny a person of a drug that would make their life better, just because of their race?

The way physicians prescribe antidepressants, or the way they sometimes do not prescribe antidepressants, is an issue that will be addressed in the Causal essay and hopefully there will be more available first hand accounts of people who have the conditions warranting Prozac, but still do not receive it. Another factor that must be looked into is the usefulness or effectiveness of generic brand Prozac because of the fact that many minority groups, if they are given a prescription to antidepressants, receive the generic forms instead of the real thing.

For this essay, the sources I used were:

“Prozac Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing –   WebMD.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.             http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-6997-       Prozac+Oral.aspx?drugid=6997&drugname=Prozac+Oral&pagenumber=4

“Study: Race and Medicaid Is a Factor in Who’s Prescribed Antidepressants.” The     Vigilant Mom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.             http://www.thevigilantmom.com/2012/04/study-race-and-medicaid-is-a-   factor-in-whos-prescribed-antidepressants/

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One Response to Definition Essay -Dan Primavera

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Dan! As you may recall, I’ll be making comments paragraph by paragraph as I read your argument, so you’ll get “live” feedback from a critical reader (some would say too critical).

    P1. I don’t see why you’re quibbling about what to define, Dan, when you clearly have a very convenient term that requires explanation. You’ve put it in quotes to emphasize that it has a special meaning, so why not define “white drug”? You continue to overwrite, using more language than necessary to explain simple concepts. “I can set defining parameters to a major factor in my argument” means “I can define a term” or “I can limit the use of a term.” Also please avoid repeating yourself in cases like “this major factor that I could sort of define.” Finally, this paragraph Fails for Grammar Rule 4.

    P2. I’m not sure yet what this paragraph accomplishes, but it could easily be trimmed, Dan, if you do need it.

    Prozac has been one of the most effective—and profitable—prescription anti-depressants since 1987. It has almost no side effects and is hard to overdose.

    Fails for Grammar Rule 2.

    P3. I don’t know who you’re talking to, Dan, when you continue to argue with the terms of the assignment, but try to imagine that your readers have no idea you’re writing a Definition Argument. You don’t have to tell them and they couldn’t care less. Don’t make promises to them either about what you’ll prove or how you’ll do it. Just make your argument. Your first two sentences here are virtually identical to the statements made in your Introduction.

    Combine paragraphs 2 and 3 if you decide you need 2. Transition directly from the brief description of Prozac to: The medical conditions that warrant a prescription include . . . .

    That claim you made in P2 about other conditions would be better made here with a comment like “Though Prozac is most commonly known as an antidepressant, WebMD reports it is prescribed also for OCD, panic attacks, etc.

    I have no idea why the range of conditions should change the ratio of drugs prescribed to white and non-white patients, Dan, because you haven’t yet spelled out any of the data to support your claim that it is in fact a “white drug.” Before you object to the injustice, establish the injustice.

    P4. Please recognize and eliminate wordiness, Dan. It leads to terrible vagueness, repetition, and confusion. Does “follow up on this idea that Prozac is typically not prescribed to minority groups, mostly just to white people” mean “confirm that Prozac is disproportionately prescribed to white patients”?

    Does “there are some arguments for financial or insurance factors that prevent many from getting Prozac, but they do not account for enough of these cases to not consider this situation as odd” mean: “Some argue that white patients with cash or insurance can more easily afford Prozac, but not enough to refute the appearance of racial bias”?

    Do not tell your reader what you’ll be covering in another assignment, Dan. Your target audience is not this class but the world of readers who think medicine is fair.

    When you say “address this topic,” I don’t know what you mean. And when you say “the results were not surprising after already reading up on this subject,” you’re chatting with your readers about the process again. You could replace all of that with a simple claim: A University of Michigan study confirms the racial bias; the study found that Hispanic patients . . . .

    When you say “seeing that the study pointed out the race factors of prescribing Prozac,” I don’t know what you mean. And when you say “makes it a great study to reference,” you’re chatting with your readers about process again.

    Instead of:

    Being that those who are recipients of Medicaid or Medicare are also unlikely to receive Prozac can sort of also be thought of as a counter because in the studies where any inquiries are made into what percentage of white people receive Prozac compared to minority groups who don’t, because maybe a high percentage of the minority groups are under those two healthcare companies.

    Try:

    Part of the bias results from the reluctance to prescribe Prozac to Medicaid patients, who are more often non-white than white.

    I removed Medicare from your claim because I don’t think non-white patients are any more likely to be Medicare patients, but if I’m wrong you could put back those few words.

    P5. I am mystified by your analysis of this source, Dan. You quote the source and then paraphrase the material almost word for word, calling all four findings “the most influential findings.” The truly valuable data, that white people received antidepressants 1.52 more TIMES than minorities is not conclusive. Times is meaningless. But if whites with the same symptoms with non-whites were prescribed a-d proportionately 1.52 times more often, you ‘d have a meaningful statistic. You might need to quote that finding directly if you can, to make sure the claim is very accurately stated.

    P6. Your one study didn’t offer any evidence at all about Prozac, Dan. It only addressed the numbers of anti-depressants prescribed. I thought your goal was to prove that white patients got Prozac while others got generic anti-depressants, making Prozac a “white drug.” Am I wrong about that?

    P7. This paragraph is virtually a copy of P3, but with more righteous indignation. You need to prove the injustice in a definition essay, Dan. You can rail against the prejudice in your Position Paper.

    P8. Again, you can eliminate the “shop talk” of explaining what you’ll be doing in other assignments. Your readers have no idea (nor do they care) that you’re engaged in a series.

    As for your claim that non-white patients get generics, it’s hardly an afterthought. The whole point of referring to Prozac as a “white drug” is to distinguish it from the generics that other patients get. If you want to make a good case that doctors do patients harm when they prescribe generics, you’ll first have to demonstrate that they provide less effective treatment than the brand-name stuff.

    All right, that all sounded pretty severe, Dan, and I do want you to take my feedback seriously. But the structure of a reasonable argument is here. You just need to focus more clearly on precisely what you’re claiming and what the evidence you’ve gathered proves. I don’t want you to just import this material into your Research Position Paper without thorough revision, so I have to be firm now to be helpful to you later. Is that OK?

    I’d love to know if you find these comments useful, Dan, and not merely annoying. Please respond, and also, be prepared to share with your classmates in class today whatever lessons you have learned from this feedback. Thanks.

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