Are You Finally Catching on to Phony Diseases?
April 27, 2006
According to a set of essays published in the Public Library of Science Medicine, drug companies are systematically inventing non-existent diseases, or exaggerating minor ones, in order to sell more of their products.
The practice turns healthy people into patients, and places many of them at risk of medically induced harm.
Minor, normal problems, such as the symptoms of menopause, have been "medicalized" into treatable illnesses, and risk factors like high cholesterol are being treated as diseases in their own right. Conditions including female sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and "restless legs syndrome" have all been exaggerated and promoted by companies hoping to sell drugs.
Even ordinary shyness is often defined by drug companies as a social anxiety disorder to be treated with antidepressants.Richard Ley, of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, pointed out that some countries, including Britain, have legal safeguards against drug industry "disease mongering." Most of the criticisms, he argued, apply primarily to countries like the United States, where drugs can be advertised directly to patients.