Thirty years ago, the head of the drug company Merck made some remarkably candid comments about his distress that his company's market was limited to sick people. Suggesting he would like Merck to be more like the maker of Wrigley's chewing gum, the CEO said it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people, to "sell to everyone." That dream now drives the marketing machinery of the most profitable industry on earth. From award-winning Ray Moynihan,—one of the world's top medical journalists—Selling Sickness reveals how widening the boundaries of illness and lowering the threshold for treatments is creating millions of new patients and billions in new profits. This in turn is driving up personal drug bills and threatening to bankrupt national health systems all over the world. As more and more ordinary life is "medicalized," the industry moves ever closer to being able to "sell to everyone."
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Ray Moynihan is one of the world's leading health writers. His work has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review, the British Medical Journal, Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Alan Cassels is a Canadian researcher and writer who works on drug policy issues.From Publishers Weekly:
This accessible study about the collusion between medical science and the drug industry emphasizes how drug companies market their products by either redefining problems as diseases (like female sexual dysfunction) or redefining a condition to encompass a greater percentage of the population. Moynihan, a health journalist for the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, and Cassels, a Canadian science writer, note, for instance, that eight of the nine specialists who wrote the 2004 federal guideline on high cholesterol, which substantially increased the number of people in that category, have multiple financial ties to drug manufacturers. Physicians now routinely prescribe cholesterol-lowering pills (statins) that may have perilous side effects, when many people could lower their risk of heart attack with less costly and dangerous steps, such as exercise and improved diet. Through aggressive merchandising, funding of medical conferences and expensive perks, drug companies win doctors over to diagnosing these "diseases" and prescribing drugs for them. Unfortunately for these authors, much of this territory has been covered by several books in the past year, most notably Marcia Angell's The Truth About the Drug Companies
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