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Intern Med J. 2008 Nov;38(11):858-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2008.01814.x.

Disease mongering: expanding the boundaries of treatable disease.

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Discipline of Clinical Pharmacology, School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.


Traditionally, the promotional activities of medical industries have been product specific. In recent years, however, there have been examples where companies have worked through partnerships, which have included clinicians, to expand the boundaries of treatable disorders. The main motivation appears to be to increase sales of commercial products. The term 'disease mongering' has been applied to these activities. Whereas some disease awareness programmes may bring benefits in the form of improved recognition and management of disorders, the presence of strong commercial interests probably distorts the traditional processes by which treatable diseases have been defined. This can result in individual patients being exposed to potential harms, with little expectation of benefit and will place an unwarranted burden on the publicly funded health-care system. None of this can happen without the collaboration of the medical profession that needs to be aware of the risks of becoming involved in commercially supported 'consensus' groups that are reviewing the definition and management of diseases.

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