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April 11, 2006

Drug firms inventing diseases

Today's least surprising research finding: Drug firms 'inventing diseases'. [BBC]

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On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to the idea that Big Pharma is hunting voraciously for new markets at the expense of patients.

On the other hand, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and osteoporosis are all diseases that disproportionately affect women. The article also highlights attempts to call attention to female sexual disfunction (an interesting conundrum, since women aren't supposed to like sex, except that if they don't like sex, then who are men going to have sex *with*).

Women have expended a lot of energy in the last 50 years trying to get the (male) medical establishment to take their medical issues seriously. So, I'm reluctant to cheer about this study, even as I gaze skeptically at Big Pharma and their motives.

the (male) medical establishment perhaps wanted women to get extinct or smth :)

Women have expended a lot of energy in the last 50 years trying to get the (male) medical establishment to take their medical issues seriously. So, I'm reluctant to cheer about this study, even as I gaze skeptically at Big Pharma and their motives.

Interesting point. On the other hand, I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult, for any given medical condition, to trace how it has come to the attention of the medical establishment (from Big Pharma, or from the efforts of patient advocacy)--and thus distinguish the bogus from the genuine.

Alternatively, you could just sort them out based on which conditions require the most expensive drugs (with current patents).

Wow, life imitates Goon Show. Wasn't expecting that one!

Next up: the dreaded spon! (a disease consisting entirely of bare knees that is diagnosed via the process of rolling your trouser legs up).

Spike Malligna, the well known typographical error, is no doubt laughing his dead and buried ass off.

Women aren't supposed to like sex?

Mrs. Coulter, please mail me some of whatever you're on so I can try it for my restless bowel syndrome. It usually flares up anytime I encounter another of big pharma's money harvesting marketing scams.

This makes me doubt the reasonableness of my diagnosis with Chronic Glaxosmithkline Inadequacy.

Mrs. Coulter, I agree that women have fought like hell to have our actual medical problems taken seriously. That said, the medical establishment is also notorious for making up problems that we don't have. These two complaints are not mutually exclusive--in fact, they complement each other.

The history of hysteria is a great example--doctors were ignoring the real problem, which was that women were having nervous breakdowns from the stress induced by living such confined lives and instead making up an entirely different disease that conformed to their desired way of viewing women as inherently diseased and needing of more, not less, control.

As for sexual dysfunction, the model being employed resembles the one for hysteria to a degree that is alarming. That women are dissatisfied with sex is not in question. The real debate is what the cause of their lack of satisfaction is. But the male-dominated medical establishment doesn't ask about female satisfaction, they ask about female performance, and that's why it's a matter of rapidly getting the woman back to full sexual function for her mate so that she's not a bother to him anymore, same as with hysteria--the real problem was not making the woman well, but making her less of a burden on her husband.

My gut feeling is that with the sheer amount of ignorance and guilt doled out to women about sex, it's amazing that only 43% suffer dysfunction. But until we can rework our model of understanding female sexuality, we won't be able to separate those who don't know how to orgasm, those who are too overworked to care about sex, and those who have massive guilt issues from those who have genuine physical problems that could be best addressed with medication.

Serendipity! I just found that Petra Boynton has a related post up at her place.

This conference on Disease Mongering is taking place here in my state and this is the first I've heard of it. Now that Aunty Beeb's paying attention we'll probably get some news on it here.

my personal favorite is that dry eye syndrome they are constantly advertising with the actress who says, "My own tears! What could be better" or something like that.

Say it ain't so!

Was that progressive darling, the late Frank Zappa, actually a shill for Big Pharma?

Judge for yourself:

Out through the night An' the whispering breezes To the place where they keep The Imaginary Diseases, mmm . .

This has to be the disease for you
Now scientists call this disease
Bromidrosis
But us regular folks
Who might wear tennis shoes
Or an occasional python boot
Know this exquisite little inconvenience
By the name of:
STINK FOOT

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