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Shankar PR, Subish P
Correspondence: Dr P Ravi Shankar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Convincing healthy people that they are sick and require medicines can enormously expand the market. Disease mongering can turn ordinary ailments like baldness into medical problems, consider risk factors such as hypertension and osteoporosis as diseases and frame prevalence estimates to increase potential markets. In Asia, conditions like erectile dysfunction, male pattern baldness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and irritable bowel syndrome, and the drugs to treat them, are widely promoted. Fairness creams and traditional medicines are also widely used. The cost of disease mongering to the individual and the community is expected to be high. Some authors have argued that medicalisation of illnesses may not be a problem and the real problem may be the lack of medicines. Doctors will play a key role in combating disease mongering. Disentanglement from the pharmaceutical industry and development of a capacity for critical analysis are required. Educating patients and empowering them to make decisions are important. Several initiatives have been undertaken to combat disease mongering. Initiatives at the level of the patient and the physician are especially important. Studies on the extent and knowledge of disease mongering among doctors and medical students, and their economic and social consequences are urgently required.
Keywords: disease mongering, doctors, drug promotion, medical consumer, pharmaceutical industry
Singapore Med J 2007; 48(4): 275–280