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Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:28 GMT

Author: Evan Doran
Position: Dr/Research Fellow
Institution: University of Newcastle
Submitted Date: July 14, 2008
Published Date: July 21, 2008
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Shankar and colleagues remind us that while disease mongering is part of the global health debate there is much left to be done in generating awareness and action. The lucrative markets of the industrialised nations have been the focus of the marketing efforts of Pharma and commentary and analysis of disease mongering has typically centred on its exercise and impact in those countries. Of course markets for products that purport to remedy our (alleged) frailities and imperfections will be opened and/or expanded wherever there is money to be made. Further, as Professor Shankar points out, disease mongering can be employed to sell products such as herbal preparations as well as pharmaceuticals. Regardless of region or product, disease mongering poses the same risks in diversion of attention and resources from more pressing public health problems and less profiteering solutions.

Systematic investigation of disease mongering, the need for which was highlighted in our essay and repeated in Professor Shankar’s response, will be richer and more effective if it encompasses the wide a range of international experience. As indicated in our essay, the policy impact of such research would be enhanced by the results being centralised and made available to academics, advocates and publics.

Competing interests declared: I am an author of this article