Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients

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Nation Books, Jun 23, 2006 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
4 Reviews
Thirty years ago, Henry Gadsden, the head of Merck, one of the world's largest drug companies, told Fortune magazine that he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley's. It had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people so that Merck could "sell to everyone." Gadsden's dream now drives the marketing machinery of the most profitable industry on earth. Drug companies are systematically working to widen the very boundaries that define illness, and the markets for medication grow ever larger. Mild problems are redefined as serious illness and common complaints are labeled as medical conditions requiring drug treatments. Runny noses are now allergic rhinitis, PMS 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. 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 health-care systems all over the world. As more and more of ordinary life becomes medicalized, the industry moves ever closer to Gadsden's dream: "selling to everyone."

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User Review  - seldombites - LibraryThing

With less than 5 percent of the world's population, the US comprises almost 50% of the global prescription drug market, and a whopping 80% of the global market of prescription stimulants like Ritalin ... Read full review

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User Review  - Scrabblenut - LibraryThing

This is an eye-opening book about how medical testing and drug companies are conspiring to make every person a patient, even though the actual benefit to the individual may be low, and the side ... Read full review


Selling to everyone High cholesterol
Doughnuts for the doctors Depression
Working with celebrities Menopause
Partnering with patients Attention deficit disorder
Making risks into medical conditions High blood pressure
Advertising disease Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Shaping public perceptions Social anxiety disorder
Testing the markets Osteoporosis
Taming the watchdogs Irritable bowel syndrome
Subverting the selling Female sexual dysfunction
What can we do?

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About the author (2006)

Ray Moynihan is one of the world's leading health writers. His work has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review, the British Medical Journal, Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Alan Cassels is a Canadian researcher and writer who works on drug policy issues.

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