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April 11, 2006

Drug Companies 'Disease-mongering' For Profit

Topics: Health Issues

..."you only have to read a list of unpleasant symptoms to begin to suffer from them. It's the reverse placebo effect.

A lot of money can be made from healthy people who believe they are sick. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor diseases and promote them to prescribers and consumers.

According to a set of essays published by the open-access journal Public Library of Science Medicine, minor problems that are a normal part of life such as female sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), menopause and "restless legs syndrome" are being "medicalised" and promoted by drug companies hoping to sell more of their drugs.

The practice of "diseasemongering" by the drug industry is promoting non-existent illnesses or exaggerating minor ones for the sake of profits, and apparently it's causing a global challenge.

So before you fall for the next TV ad on the latest disease for fun and profit, think about these points:

  • Although some sponsored professionals or consumers may act independently and all concerned may have honourable motives, in many cases the formula is the same: groups and/or campaigns are orchestrated, funded, and facilitated by corporate interests, often via their public relations and marketing infrastructure.
  • Some forms of "medicalisation" may now be better described as "disease mongering"---extending the boundaries of treatable illness to expand markets for new products

  • Alliances of pharmaceutical manufacturers, doctors, and patients groups use the media to frame conditions as being widespread and severe
  • Disease mongering can include turning ordinary ailments into medical problems, seeing mild symptoms as serious, treating personal problems as medical, seeing risks as diseases, and framing prevalence estimates to maximise potential markets
  • Corporate funded information about disease should be replaced by independent information
In other words, be a smart cosumer, and don't fall for what the TV ads are trying to sell you.

Related:
Disease Mongering
How Disease-Mongering Works (This is a great read - almost entertaining!)

Posted by Richard at April 11, 2006 7:34 AM



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