PHAR 4200W/5200: Drugs and the U.S. Health Care System

Course Details


  • Online course 
  • 3 credits
  • Offered Fall and Spring

*PHAR 4200W meets the civic life and ethics and writing intensive requirements for University of Minnesota-Twin Cities undergraduate students

This course is open to any student with an interest in the subject.

Course Materials
There is no required textbook for this course.

Course Director
Anna Milone, PharmD, BCPS

Course Description

Being an empowered patient is important when discussing ethics-driven issues within the U.S. health care system. This course will expose students to current controversial issues surrounding medications and national health care and help students examine their own role as a participant in this system. Students will learn to draw comparisons between medication-use systems around the world and analyze other controversies related to access, choice, and quality of health care. During this course, students will understand how their choices, ethics, and behavior affect societal decisions surrounding the availability of medications in the US and what their rights are as a citizen-participant during the health care debate.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Clearly and concisely communicate your viewpoints and ideas for potential solutions, in written format, concerning medication controversies in the US health care system
  • Describe the impact of drugs on society
  • Explain the differences between prescription, non-prescription drugs, and dietary supplements
  • Explain the role of the FDA and other government agencies of regulation
  • Describe how drug regulation affects drug use and availability and the ethical implications of regulatory decisions
  • Describe the role and influence of the pharmaceutical industry and discuss the controversies surrounding DTC advertising
  • Describe the types of drug information and literature available and its role
  • Define and describe insurance structures and options
  • Describe and discuss various government health care systems available worldwide
  • Describe the role of members of the health care team
  • Define health care literacy and research analyzing its impact on human experiences and behavior
  • Summarize rights and responsibilities of patients
  • Outline the complexities of the US health care system and discuss debates regarding the ethical implications, societal solutions, and priorities
  • Discuss medication and other controversies related to access, choice, and quality of healthcare
  • Explain how moral viewpoints and ethics impact research and medical care choices
  • Create personal learning objectives that will benefit the student during the course and beyond


  • Drug Information/Introduction to Writing
  • Drug Advertising
  • Drug Regulation, Development and Safety
  • Medication Errors 
  • Drug Pricing
  • Affordable Care Act and Global Health Care Systems
  • Prescription Drug Abuse
  • Private Health Insurance and Government Health Care Systems
  • Health Care Reform
  • End of Life Issues