Disease Mongering: Corporations Create New 'Illnesses'"Disease mongering exploits the deepest atavistic fears of suffering and death. It is in the interests of pharmaceutical companies to extend the range of the abnormal so that the market for treatments is proportionately enlarged." Iona Heath, General Practitioner at the Caversham Practice in London
Prevention is conspicuously absent from today's public health scene. The use of nutrition and other natural means of preventing and curing illness is actively, if covertly, discouraged by most health authorities across the world. It is strictly forbidden to inform the public about preventive and curative properties of any product not registered as a pharmaceutical drug, creating the illusion that foods and nutrition are ineffective in prevention and healing. But more importantly even - normal, everyday behavior is increasingly medicalized, actually creating new diseases that 'must be treated'.
Some of the diseases that are actively promoted to justify drug treatment include, according to a recent article in The Guardian, erectile dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), female sexual dysfunction (FSD), bipolar disorder and restless legs syndrome.
Image Credit: Anthony Flores
In his article. The Latest Mania: Selling Bipolar Disorder, David Healy, writing in PLoS Medicine - a peer reviewed, open access journal of the Public Library of Science - analyzes how, by change of definitions, bipolar disorder has been made into a 'common disease'. The problem is that the cure - 'mood stabilizing' drugs - has not been tested in any meaningful way in a long term setting. The side effects of the medications which are often as serious as death by suicide, change the equation for the much enlarged group of potential patients. Those side effects become a real problem, often more serious than the condition was to begin with."Disease mongering turns healthy people into patients, wastes precious resources, and causes iatrogenic harm. Like the marketing strategies that drive it, disease mongering poses a global challenge to those interested in public health, demanding in turn a global response," write Ray Moynihan and David Henry, guest editors at PLoS Medicine, in their article outlining the problem for the April 2006 issue of the journal. "In our view, disease mongering is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments."
First Disease Mongering Conference...
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Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection - AHRP - informs that "an Inaugural Conference on Disease-Mongering, April, 11 to 13, is being hosted by the Newcastle Institute of Public Health and School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, Australia. The conference program is available from www.diseasemongering.org.
Sharav adds that an important issue was not included in the conference discussions :"Big Pharma money and advertising not only influence the perception of illness, the demand for drugs, and the practice of medicine, but government budgets, including health service and oversight agencies have become dependent on Big Pharma money. An out of the box analysis opened our eyes to a fundamental conflict of interest that has never been discussed. Public health policies are not merely influenced by Big Pharma; they are formulated so as to increase industry’s profits because GOVERNMENT BUDGETS are tied to this industry’s profits." (more...)
While National Health Services in most developed countries where modern medicine is practiced are all but breaking down under the load of rapidly rising costs, these same services are doing anything possible to facilitate the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. Medicine is largely operated as a business and it is only natural that the maximization of profits would be one of its primary aims. Often profit conflicts with what we see as the aim of medicine - prevention and real healing.
Three broad steps to overcome the predicament
1 - Personal responsibility: First of all, people should be made aware that their health is their own to take care of, and they should be given the tools to do so. This includes information about biochemical facts, health and nutrition, early recognition of signs of disease and prompt preventive intervention with nutrition, including supplements and other non-toxic natural means. We need an operating manual for good health.
2 - Medical pluralism: When disease has developed, the method of treatment should be decided in agreement between medical professional and patient and the choices should include all known methods, regardless of 'general acceptance'. We must strive to overcome the de-facto monopoly of pharma-centered western medicine in treating disease. Once we choose medical pluralism, the most successful treatments will become the most popular.
3 - Real understanding: Research should not be restricted to finding the next new blockbuster drug but should instead lead to understanding biochemical pathways and the human body's own mechanisms of protection and real healing. The aim would be to allow medicine, with simple interventions, to help human bodies heal themselves while abstaining from damaging interventions that merely suppress symptoms.
Certainly, these are far reaching changes, but the direction is clear: We must choose between pampering an already immensely profitable industry and achieving our goals for public health. In today's world, the two are clearly incompatible.
Further reading and links:
The Nation: A Disease for Every Pill
by RAY MOYNIHAN & ALAN CASSELS
[from the October 17, 2005 issue]
UK: House of Commons Health Committee (2005)
The influence of the pharmaceutical industry. (PDF)
The Telegraph: Should we keep taking the tablets?
PLoS Medicine: Bigger and Better: How Pfizer Redefined Erectile Dysfunction
PLoS Medicine: The Latest Mania: Selling Bipolar Disorder
Inaugural Conference on Disease Mongering
April 11 to 13 2006, Newcastle, Australia
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Beldeu Singh, who has contributed several articles to this site, adds his point of view, extending the list of artificially created diseases:
DRUG COMPANIES "DISEASE-MONGERING" TO BOOST PROFITS
In our newspaper I saw the above headline to an interesting article that says "Pharmaceutical companies are systematically creating diseases to sell their products, turning healthy people into patients and placing many at risk, a special edition of a medical journal claimed today.
The practice of "disease-mongering" by the drug industry is promoting non-existent illnesses or exaggerating minor ones for the sake of profits, according to the journal PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE MEDICINE" (NST, Wednesday April 12, 2006 p 28).
The "diseases" include menopause, irritable bowel syndrome, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis, ADHD and restless legs.
"Other minor problems that are a normal part of life such as symptoms of menopause are also becoming increasingly "medicalised" while risk factors such as
high cholesterol levels or osteoporosis are being presented as diseases in their own right, the editors said.
"Disease-mongering turns healthy people into patients, wastes resources and causes iatrogenic (medically induced) harm".
This article appeared in THE TIMES and you may have seen it. We have written along similar lines as noted in many articles including those below.
1. Beldeu Singh: Can I Have my Chemo Supplement Please?
March, 2006 - The future is written in emerging history. As it is emerging and slowly creeping upon us, we find medical associations banning ...
2. And the smell of scandal in the drug industry does not stop there with this one drug called AZT. Julian Whitaker M.D. said that "Ritalin is legally sanctioned "Speed". Ritalin is the number one prescription drug for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This drug has such tremendous potential for abuse that it is classified as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Ritalin is an amphetamine (in street jargon, "speed") with a lengthy list of side effects, including nervousness, insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, irregular heart rhythms, and psychic dependence - in short, addiction.
Following the acceptance of ADD/ADHD as medical diagnoses, sales of Ritalin and similar stimulants have skyrocketed, with more than 6 million such prescriptions being written in 1995, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, Ritalin's appeal to drug users and its potential for abuse are so high that US House Judiciary Chair Henry Hyde (R-IL) recently filed a request with the General Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation of Ritalin abuse in public schools. "In 1996 the World Health Organization warned that Ritalin over-use has reached dangerous proportions. Ritalin, for instance, may provoke seizures and suppress growth, or it may cause angina, blood pressure changes, depression or any of a very long list of serious side effects," Dr. Allen Buresz. Very likely, Ritalin is another drug with free radical generating toxicity.
Class action lawsuits have been filed in Texas, California and New Jersey charging Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin, with conspiracy to create the psychiatric disorder known as ADHD in order to fuel the market for their product."
These lawsuits filed in Texas, California and New Jersey claim that the booming success of Ritalin is the result of a conspiracy in which the American Psychiatric Association, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. and national parents' group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) colluded to create the diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
It's a scary business out there. You can create a diagnosis to market your product!
3. Biologically, menopause is not a medical problem and it is not entirely correct to say that "she was diagnosed with menopause". It is not a medical problem that needs "treatment" although it is associated with sleep disorders but sound medical advice and support helps. Menopause is a natural aging process and must be managed in that perspective.
see: Managing the Aging Process After Menopause
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HARMACEUTICAL - a new word created probably unintentionally - seems to be a potentially very descriptive term for the pharma crowd.
I found it in the Crusador newsletter - Health Lies Exposed...
Drugs Companies 'Inventing Diseases to Boost Their Profits'
Date: 4/21/06 Author: Mark Henderson Source: The Times of London
HARMACEUTICAL companies are systematically creating diseases in order to sell more of their products, turning healthy people into patients and placing many at risk of harm, a special edition of a leading medical journal claims today.
Monterey Herald - The business of selling sickness
The Times April 08, 2006
We’re sick of being shy
by Roger Dobson
Is bashfulness a personality disorder?
Or are we in danger of medicalising a harmless trait?
Goodbye shyness, hello avoidant-personality disorder. Shyness, once an accepted and even admired trait, has been hijacked and given the status of a syndrome. Some experts believe that half the population now “suffer” from it. But is it natural or a medical affliction? “Social phobia” was recognised as a diagnosis in 1980 and, since then, it has been joined in the textbooks by social-anxiety disorder and avoidant-personality disorder. For those deemed to be afflicted there is counselling available as well as self-help books, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. And for severe cases, there are drugs — mainly antidepressants, but also beta-blockers and botulinum toxin (for the excess sweating caused by shyness). There are even half a dozen shyness clinics around the country.
Glaxo denies pushing 'lifestyle' treatments
GlaxoSmithKline, Europe's biggest drugs manufacturer, yesterday defended itself against accusations that it is turning healthy people into patients by "disease mongering" and pushing "lifestyle" treatments for little-known ailments. Studies published in a respected medical journal, the Public Library of Science Medicine, this month accused the big pharmaceutical companies of "medicalising" problems such as high cholesterol and sexual dysfunction. The authors of the report highlighted the "restless legs" syndrome, described by GSK as "common yet unrecognised" when it launched its Ropinirole treatment last year.
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday April 13 2006
updated on Wednesday December 8 2010
URL of this article:
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