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On Pharmaceutical Companies Being Disease-Mongerers

or How Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Has You Taking Meds You May Not Need

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Money growing on trees“Disease-mongering” isn’t a word that’s defined, as such. It’s more of a colloquial term. It is defined by Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon as, “efforts by a pharmaceutical company to create or exaggerate a malady for the purpose of increasing sales of a medication.”

Yes. We have another word for that in the 21st century: marketing.

Pharmaceutical Marketing

The job of a marketer is to make you buy something you never knew you needed. Do you need a new car? No, you probably don’t, but gosh does that fancy commercial make you ever think you do. Do you need shiny hair? Not really, but that new shampoo sure seems like a good idea.

And so on.

It’s marketing. It’s taking a need that you either have or could have and blowing it out of proportion until you’re convinced you must fill it.

And guess what, pharmaceutical companies do exactly the same thing. Pharmaceutical companies take a medical need that you have, or could have, and blow it out of proportion until you’re convinced you must fill it. There’s nothing shocking, new or devastating about that. It’s exactly the same and yet no one calls car marketers “transportation-mongerers.”

Disease-Mongering is a Result of Laws

And you know why pharmaceuticals get to advertise illnesses and their treatments to you? Your government, that’s why. It’s because your politicians don’t have the backbone to stand up to drug companies and say that direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals is bad for the consumer and should be illegal.

This is in spite of the fact that every other country in the world (except New Zealand) says that direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs is illegal.

Honestly, it’s kind of pathetic that the United States can’t get on board with every other country in the world (except New Zealand. I have no idea what’s up with them).

The Term 'Disease-Mongering' is Just an Attempt to Shame Drug Companies

And so the term “disease-mongering” was invented to shame pharmaceutical companies into not doing what every other product does on the planet: advertise in any way they can. Which is ridiculous. Shame doesn’t get companies to change marketing practices that would cost billions of dollars—laws do.

If you don’t want the sad, hopping oval or the eerily glowing butterfly coming across your television screens, don’t bother inventing a useless word—try petitioning the people who can actually affect change—politicians. Because, if you ask me, it’s a lot more immoral to allow an entire industry to run roughshod over a population’s health than simply obeying the law and advertising as legislated. Because one illness or one drug or one company isn’t the problem. All of them are. 

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About the Author

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer who specializes in writing about bipolar disorder.

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