Azara Blog: Drug companies allegedly inventing diseases

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Date published: 2006/04/12

The BBC says:

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.

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."

More middle class hand-wringing. You can always cherry-pick these kinds of alleged abuses by the pharmaceutical industry, especially when you have a political axe to grind. The question is whether this is significant in the global view. And it's hardly surprising that pharmaceutical companies are more interested in selling drugs than in educating the public. The latter is not their job and the former is. And these kinds of alleged abuses can only succeed because most people are hypochondriacs who believe there must be a cure for every problem in life. And one way for doctors to get rid of these hypochondriacs is to hand out pills like candy. Far worse than the drug industry is the beauty industry. At least most drugs do something positive, beauty products do nothing except soothe people's vanity.

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