Article

Vande Walle, G., Ponsaers, P. (2006). “Formal and informal pharmaceutical economies in Third World countries : Synergetic, symbiotic or parasitical?”, Crime, Law and Social Change, Vol. 45, n° 4-5, 373-381.

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Abstract

Informal economy functions without any formal social control for lack of a supervisory authority. Within a regulated locality the same activities would have an illegal character, but in that deviating situation those informal activities can thrive because the authorities do not intervene. Globalization of our western mixed market economy implies that also the aspect of government control takes on a global character. The fact that formal economies settle in places where an informal market is the rule leads to a combined action which, eventually, creates new market relations. In the present contribution we study the effects of a meeting between a formal and an informal market on the basis of a concrete case. An analysis of the market of medical products in Third World countries gives an idea of the new relations that arise when an informal market of natural medicines is confronted with a formal market of western medicines. We study both the situation in which there are no regulations and the situation in which the formal market is supported by economic regulations. This text illustrates how those situations can give rise to new opportunities for one group and to exploitation for another.

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... Nowadays, markets sometimes behave like nation states (e.g. transnational corporations who set high environmental standards for production) and non-state actors sometimes fill gaps left open by civil institutions (Vande Walle & Ponsaers, 2006). This does not mean the state became unimportant. ...
Chapter
This article discusses the topic of transnational environmental crime and its governance. After illustrating the social relevance of and scientific attention for transnational environmental crime this article turns to a discussion of the implications for the governance paradigm. This raises a number of topics which are subject of analysis in the PhD research about the cases of illegal transports of e-waste and tropical timber within a European research setting. This article explains how this can improve the understanding about transnational environmental crime and its governance. It argues that this topic deserves continued societal and scientific attention.
... Clearly these are ideal types and in practice much overlap exists between them (Renooy, 1990;Vande Walle and Ponsaers, 2006). In their distinction between informal and informal and illegal economies, Castells and Portes (1989) look at the way in which the product is produced or distributed. ...
Chapter
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In this chapter we shall focus on research into the informal economy that was carried outin Europe. First, however, we shall discuss the diversity of definitions used by researchers. Different disciplines are engaged in the study of the informal economy, leading to divergent opinions on how to study this domain, how to interpret and define the concept and which motives underlie participation in the informal economy. As in literature we observe a cleardivide between publications that address the topic from a theoretical or conceptual point ofview and those that approach informal economy from an empirical perspective, this (unfortunate) division is equally applied in this chapter.
... In the absence of governance or with weak governance, pluralistic health systems made up of a collection of public and private health care providers operate with little communication amongst each other [7]. Walle and Ponsaers define informal markets as those without state intervention [8]. Because they are outside of the purview of state regulation, these markets also do not necessarily entail 'illegal economic activity'. ...
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Purpose – The informal economy is more than the inverse of the formalised economy, but is a dynamic environment. It is less limited by legal rules, state control, bureaucracy or tax regulation. On the other hand the informal market is less visible than the regular economy. The purpose of this paper is to find out how informal markets are currently developing. Design/methodology/approach – This contribution is based on a literature review of primarily European work from scholars active in different disciplinary fields, concentrating upon presentations made during the seminars given for the EU Framework 6 CRIMPREV programme. It is structured using a matrix of potentially interesting variables: disciplinary interaction and the need for a multidisciplinary discourse; the position of nation states as a fundamental variable for the existence of the informal economy; general global economic dynamics and their implications for the concept of the informal economy; the interplay of formal, informal and criminal markets; the functionalities of informal markets for the classic survival economy; the dangerousness of wrong perceptions of informal markets and finally the contribution of different methodologies to the knowledge of the informal economy. Research limitations/implications – The matrix is incomplete and further input is welcome. Originality/value – This paper could be a start for the comparison of analyses of informal markets in time and space, without the limitations of the classic categories such as organised crime and in limiting definitions.
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▪ Abstract This review discusses pharmaceuticals as social and cultural phenomena by following their “life cycle” from production, marketing, and prescription to distribution, purchasing, consumption, and finally their efficacy. Each phase has its own particular context, actors, and transactions and is characterized by different sets of values and ideas. The anthropology of pharmaceuticals is relevant to medical anthropology and health policy. It also touches the heart of general anthropology with its long-time interest in the concepts of culture vs nature, symbolization and social transformation, and its more recent concerns with the cultural construction of the body and processes of globalization and localization. The study of transactions and meanings of pharmaceuticals in diverse social settings provides a particularly appropriate empirical base for addressing these new theoretical issues.
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Studies on the distribution of pharmaceuticals in developing countries have focused on prescription (and over-prescription!) by doctors, and the sale practices of pharmacy workers and informal vendors (Cunningham 1970; Ferguson 1981; van der Geest 1982a, 1982b; Greenhalgh 1987; Hardon 1987; Logan 1983; Melrose 1982). But there is still another type of distributor that deserves attention: traditional health practitioners. Landy (1977) has argued that traditional healers must adapt to processes of modernization in health care if they want to survive. One very effective adaptation seems the inclusion of Western pharmaceuticals within their therapeutic arsenal. Reports about the use of modern pharmaceuticals by traditional practitioners come from Africa (Good et al. 1979), Central America (Ferguson 1981), Bangladesh (Sarder and Chen 1981) and Sri Lanka (Waxler 1984).
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Western pharmaceuticals have the dubious distinction of being as popular and available around the world as Coca-Cola. In the smallest villages in many countries, one can purchase an antibiotic capsule as easily as a bottle of Coke. International alarm increases over the importation to developing countries of drugs banned in the US and Europe, including highly toxic medicines. Increasing attention is focusing on the distribution of pharmaceuticals within developing nations through the illegal activities of drug peddlers, market women, and even licensed pharmacists and medical personnel (see van der Geest 1982a, 1982b, 1984). Medicines are sold in the streets and open-air markets with no information — or wrong information — on the dosage or even on the type of illness that should be treated (e.g., Wasunna and Wasunna 1974). However, there is little research on how people have actually incorporated these pharmaceuticals into their treatment regimens — whether ‘appropriately’ or not. Moreover, we believe that even when local people do have reasonably accurate information, the ways in which they actually perceive and use Western pharmaceuticals are not always in congruence with assumptions of medical personnel and drug manufacturers about how the drugs should be used and the illnesses they should be used to treat.
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While doing anthropological fieldwork in Mexican urban areas, I noticed that many people routinely consulted the local pharmacist ‘almost like a doctor’ (casi como doctor). They presented their physical complaints and described their symptoms, expecting the pharmacists to diagnose their illnesses and to prescribe treatment. The pharmacists obliged their clients by labeling their illnesses and by selling them the pharmaceutical preparations they recommended. I also observed that many people self-diagnosed their illnesses and medicated themselves with over-the-counter-drugs (hereafter referred to as OTC’s) which they purchased at local pharmacies, often in consultation with pharmacists. Both the practice of consulting pharmacists and that of self-diagnosis and self-medication are made easier in Mexico, as in many parts of the Third World, because few pharmaceutical preparations or patent medicines require a physician’s prescription to be purchased. In Mexico, in the early 1980s, only 289 items (such as Dexadrina, Nembutal, and Qualude) needed prescriptions to be sold. It is also common practice in Mexico to buy drugs labeled ‘prescription only’ without a prescription as I have observed people doing on numerous occasions. When people do have prescriptions, they still rely on self-diagnosis and often trade prescriptions with friends, neighbors, and family members who have had the same symptoms.
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According to the World Bank, between one-third and one-half of all sich persons do not use modern medical facilities but are cared for at home, buy over-the-counter drugs, or consult traditional healers (Shaw and Griffin, 1995). This paper presents the findings of an UNRISD-sponsored survey of the parallel pharmaceutical market conducted in 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) (Nsarhaza, 1997). Questionnaires, individual and group interviews, participant research, and official reports were used to gather information from vendors and buyers in Kinshasa's central market, and from Ministry of Health inspectors, doctors, medical students, nurses, a hospital administrator, a public-sector hygiene worker, a civil servant from the Zairean Inspection Office, a dealer in contraband, pharmacists, sales representatives from the pharmaceutical companies, and leaders of civic associations. The survey focused on the sale of pharmaceuticals, but also looked at the wider situation in the country, and examined the international implications of the findings.
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