PHAR 4204W/5204: Drugs and the U.S. Healthcare System

Course Description

Being an empowered patient is important when discussing ethics-driven issues within the U.S. healthcare system. This course will expose students to current controversial issues surrounding medications and national healthcare 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 healthcare. During this course, students will explore how their choices, ethics, and behavior affect societal decisions surrounding the availability of medications in the U.S. and what their rights are as a citizen-participant during the healthcare debate.

Students are expected to have completed the first-year writing requirement, or equivalent, prior to registering for this class.


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 healthcare system
  • Describe the impact of drugs on society
  • Explain the differences between prescription drugs, 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 their role
  • Define and describe insurance structures and options
  • Describe and discuss various government healthcare systems available worldwide
  • Describe the role of members of the healthcare team
  • Define healthcare literacy and research analyzing its impact on human experiences and behavior
  • Summarize rights and responsibilities of patients
  • Outline the complexities of the US healthcare 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 healthcare choices
  • Create personal learning objectives that will benefit you during the course and beyond


  • Health Literacy
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Drug Information
  • Drug Advertising
  • Drug Regulation, Development, and Safety
  • Medication Errors
  • Prescription Drug Abuse
  • Drug Pricing
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • The U.S. Healthcare System
  • Global Healthcare Systems
  • Healthcare Reform