the symbolic utilization of medicines as implying an abridgement of a long and multidimensional process which is necessary for achieving health status, socially and individually speaking, is discussed from a theoretical point of view. "instant health" is proposed as the desired result or as the meaning of this symbolic process. the politico-ideological dimensions of the problem as strictly relation to the idea of medicines as merchandise is discussed. the paper also considers the false opposition: prescribed versus nonprescribed medicines and offers a new one - symbolic versus nonsymbolic use of medicines. finally, a new field of research is proposed in public health - the supply and demand of symbolic goods which would satisfy the desire for "instant health".