Friday, April 14, 2006

More on disease mongering and drug discovery

An article entitled “Drug firms accused of turning healthy people into patients” in Guardian talked about “disease mongering” tactics used by the pharmaceutical companies. How much do you think they do “disease mongering”?

I have previously wrote about these issues, which really concerns me in a previous entry: The story of drug discovery(ies) . I am concerned because this “disease mongering” thing turn sympathetic people into sceptics, and make people turn a blind eye to genuine diseases which need real attention!!!

The Guardian news report also talked about the tactics used by drug companies to create diseases like erectile dysfunction, restless leg syndrome and bipolar disorders, diseases which are currently “ mongered”.

These are excerpts from the article:
“Disease mongering exploits the deepest atavistic fears of suffering and death," said Iona Heath, a general practitioner at the Caversham Practice in London who contributed to the journal. She added: "It is in the interests of pharmaceutical companies to extend the range of the abnormal so that the market for treatments is proportionately enlarged."
… "Informal alliances of pharmaceutical corporations, public relations firms, doctors' groups and patient advocates promote these ideas to the public and policy makers, often using mass media to push a certain view of a particular health problem."
In one of the reports, Dr Joel Lexchin, a drug safety expert at York University in Toronto, alleges that Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, devised ways to "ensure that the drug was seen as a legitimate therapy for almost any man", and "took steps to make sure Viagra was not relegated to a niche role of just treating men with [erectile dysfunction] due to organic causes, such as diabetes or prostate surgery".
The message from adverts and Pfizer's website, "is that everyone, whatever their age, at one time or another, can use a little enhancement," he claims.
In a statement, Pfizer said it "only promotes prescription medicines to healthcare professionals and only in line with its licensed indications. Pfizer does not promote any of its prescription medicines to the general public and does not recommend, or promote the use of Viagra, outside of its licensed indications."

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