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Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Thirty years ago, the head of Merck, one of the world's best-known drug companies, made some remarkably candid comments. Suggesting he would like his company to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley's, Henry Gadsen told Fortune magazine it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people - so that Merck could 'sell to everyone'. Gadsen's dream now drives the marketing machinery of the most profitable industry on earth. Using their dominating influence in the world of medical science, drug companies are systematically working to widen the very boundaries that define illness. Old conditions are expanded, new ones created, and the markets for medication grow ever larger. Mild problems are redefined as serious illness and common complaints are labelled as medical conditions requiring drug treatments. Runny noses are now allergic rhinitis, PMT has become a psychiatric disorder, and hyperactive children have ADD. When it comes to conditions like high cholesterol or low bone density, being 'at risk' is sold as a disease in its own right.Selling Sickness reveals how widening the boundaries of illness and lowering the threshold for treatments is creating millions of new patients and billions in new profits, in turn threatening to bankrupt national healthcare systems all over the world. As more and more ordinary life becomes medicalised, the industry moves ever closer to Gadsen's dream: 'selling to everyone'.
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