drug firms "inventing diseases"

By Urban · May 23, 2006 · ·
  1. Urban
    Drug firms 'inventing diseases'

    Disease-mongering is putting people at risk, researchers say
    Pharmaceutical firms are inventing diseases to sell more drugs, researchers have warned.
    Disease-mongering promotes non-existent diseases and exaggerates mild problems to boost profits, the Public Library of Science Medicine reported.

    Researchers at Newcastle University in Australia said firms were putting healthy people at risk by medicalising conditions such as menopause.

    But the pharmaceutical industry denied it invented diseases.

    Restless legs - Prevalence of rare condition exaggerated
    Irritable bowel syndrome - Promoted as a serious illness needing therapy, when usually a mild problem
    Menopause - Too often medicalised as a disorder when really a normal part of life

    Report authors David Henry and Ray Moynihan criticised attempts to convince the public in the US that 43% of women live with sexual dysfunction.

    They also said that risk factors like high cholesterol and osteoporosis were being presented as diseases - and rare conditions such as restless leg condition and mild problems of irritable bowel syndrome were exaggerated.

    The report said: "Disease-mongering is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.


    "It is exemplified mostly explicitly by many pharmaceutical industry-funded disease awareness campaigns - more often designed to sell drugs than to illuminate or to inform or educate about the prevention of illness or the maintenance of health."

    The researchers called on doctors, patients and support groups to be aware of the marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry and for more research into the way in which conditions are presented.

    They added: "The motives of health professionals and health advocacy groups may well be the welfare of patients, rather than any direct self-interested financial benefit, but we believe that too often marketers are able to crudely manipulate those motivations.

    "Disentangling the different motivations of the different actors in disease-mongering will be a key step towards a better understanding of this phenomenon."

    But Richard Ley, of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the research was centred on the US where the drugs industry had much more freedom to promote their products to the public.

    "The way you can advertise is much more restricted in the UK so it is wrong to extrapolate it.

    "Also, it is not right to say the industry invents diseases, we don't. It is up to doctors to decide what treatment to give people, we can't tell them."


    this makes me mad.... just a few days ago swim had to have a root canal treatment on her tooth... which was exceptionaly painful... only to be told afterwards.. but a different dentist that it was not really necessary!


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  1. old hippie 56
    My wifes doctor is always getting free airline tickets, gift cards, and other assorted items from drug reps. In return he writes more scripts for their brand of meds.His waiting room is always full of drug reps, hell, he will see them before his patients.
  2. bewilderment
    Heh, somehow this reminds me of a funny "onion" article I read some time ago:

    That being said...I do have restless leg syndrome. Funnily enough, it always goes into full-swing when I take antidepressants...makes ya wonder.
  3. killthepoor187
    My dad's a pharmacist, he doesn't really even have any control over what drugs people take (outside of brand-name/ generic), and yet my family always had a full stock of pens, notepads, and various other knicknacks with drug logos on them. I even had an adderall pen in high school when I was buying it from other kids to get high.
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