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Vol. 11 - Num. 43

Special Articles

Disease mongering, the profitable business of diseases’ promotion

M.ª Elisa Morell Sixtoa, Carmen Martínez Gonzálezb, JL Quintana Gómezc

aMédico de Familia. CS San Blas. Servicio Madrileño de Salud, Área 10. Parla. Madrid. España.
bPediatra. CS Villablanca. Madrid. España.
cMédico de Familia. CS El Greco. Servicio Madrileño de Salud, Área 10. Getafe. Madrid. España.

Correspondence: ME Morell. E-mail:

Reference of this article: Morell Sixto ME, Martínez González C, Quintana Gómez JL. Disease mongering, the profitable business of diseases’ promotion. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2009;11:491-512.

Published in Internet: 30-09-2009 - Visits: 18109


We live an almost schizophrenic paradox in the rich countries: even when we enjoy the best life quality and life expectancy with the best health indicators, the feeling of disease and the dependence on the sanitary system are increasing. It is a fact that we have changed the way we value health and disease, limits between them have become diffuse, health is another consumer's good.

Inter alia, pharmaceutical industry has a very important role in the medicalisation of life, collaborating in the transformation of some normal situations into pathological ones and generating diseases from potentially treatable situations. Pediatrics is involved in this phenomenon too, so you can observe how pharmacological treatments for the attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder have increased, and on the contrary, diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux has diminished parallel to the disappearance of its main pharmacological treatment.

Nevertheless, there are other agents directly or indirectly implicated in this phenomenon of commercialization called "disease mongering", ranging from sanitary staff to institutions. It is compulsory to identify and understand the problem in order to seek solutions.


Disease mongering Drug industry Medicalization



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