Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Disease mongering Restless Legs Syndrome: A case study of how the media helps make people sick (PLoS Medicine)

Disease mongering Restless Legs Syndrome: A case study of how the media helps make people sick (PLoS Medicine): "“Disease mongering” is the effort by pharmaceutical companies (or others with similar financial interests) to enlarge the market for a treatment by convincing people that they are sick and need medical intervention . Typically, the disease is vague, with nonspecific symptoms spanning a broad spectrum of severity—from everyday experiences many people would not even call “symptoms,” to profound suffering. The market for treatment gets enlarged in two ways: by narrowing the definition of health so normal experiences get labeled as pathologic, and by expanding the definition of disease to include earlier, milder, and presymptomatic forms (e.g., regarding a risk factor such as high cholesterol as a disease in itself).

Discussions about disease mongering usually focus on the role of pharmaceutical companies—how they promote disease and their products through “disease awareness” campaigns and direct-to-consumer drug advertising, and by funding disease advocacy groups. But diseases also get promoted in another way: through the news media. News reports are a major source of health information for people . Unless journalists approach stories about new diseases skeptically and look out for disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical consultants, and advocacy groups, journalists too, may end up selling sickness."


  1. Anonymous4:19 AM

    This article is VERY old and since it has come out, a gene has been discovered for RLS! Check out www.rls.org for more information.

  2. Anonymous7:09 AM

    The truth is that RLS is disease mongering by the drug companies pure and simple. This is a manufactured disease which represents symptoms of magnesium deficiency which is quite common. Every single patient with so-called restless leg syndrome that I have seen has recovered promptly with inexpensive magnesium supplementation. Requip is a powerful Parkinson's drug with side effects such as compulsive gambling. This kind of misbehavior by the drug industry is a red flag indication of a broken medical system, and the dysfunctional government that allowed this to happen.

    To read more: Disease Mongering with Requip

    Jeffrey Dach MD
    my web site


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