Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering

Rangitikei Environmental Health Watch

By Ray Moynihanjournalist,a Iona Heathgeneral practitioner,b and David Henryprofessor of clinical pharmacologyc

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. Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath, and David Henry give examples of “disease mongering” and suggest how to prevent the growth of this practice

There’s a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they’re sick. Some forms of medicalising ordinary life may now be better described as disease mongering: widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.1,2 Pharmaceutical companies are actively involved in sponsoring the definition of diseases and promoting them to both prescribers and consumers. The social construction of illness is being replaced by the…

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