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The happy industry « Previous | |Next »
September 13, 2008

According to The Guardian Big Pharma is worth £600bn, it pushes products to doctors, who are supposedly trained to spot drug company nonsense. The food supplement industry (vitamin pills and herbal supplements) is worth £30bn, and is marketed with sciencey-sounding rhetoric, through the media, and no regulator rarely evaluate their claims.

The supplement industry is marketed as a cottage industry, is linked to the "nutritional therapists" community who often make claims on poor evidence. The lack of regulation is compounded by the lack of national registration and accreditation.

If there is a need to ensure the regulation of the food supplement industry, then the medical thinking behind medication, quick fixes and doping the populace for mental illness also needs to change. The drug companies are marketing fear in order to re-define human illness. In alliance with company-friendly doctors and sponsored patient groups, the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry is helping to widen the very definitions of disease, in order to expand markets for its drugs. the over-medicalization of mental disorders and the overuse of medications is often the result of the way that financial incentives and managed care have contributed to the notion of a "quick fix" by taking a pill.

It is true that the effectiveness of antidepressant, mood-stabilizing, and antipsychotic medications has helped sensitize the public to the reality of mental illness and taught them that treatment works. In this way, Big Pharma has helped reduce stigma associated with psychiatric treatment and with psychiatrists. However, it does look as if psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies and they often come across as prescription writers -- ciphers in the guise of being "helpers".

This turn to drugs has reduced the emphasis on psychotherapy and psychosocial treatments. The overmedication and overmedicalization as a result of the commercialization of health care by Big Pharma means that there is a serious decline in the interest in and practice of so-called talk therapy, a process that attempts to understand the in-depth source of people's emotional reactions, unconscious motivations and internal conflicts. There is also an increased reliance on antidepressants and short-term cures that are not only impersonal but inadequate.

Although medication and other shortcuts have certain value in conjunction with therapy and are sometimes essential, they generally represent only symptomatic cures and fail to address the deeper emotions and conflicts that produced them. These internal conflicts are likely to persist and continue to harm people's relationships, children, work habits and overall quality of life.

The turn to drugs is part and parcel of the theory that the great majority of common psychiatric conditions (such as depression or psychosis) are caused by underlying disturbances in brain function. The medical model of mental illness postulates brain pathology as the basis for mental illness.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:55 PM | | Comments (6)



This whole medicalising - and thus pharmacologising - of every aspect of human experience is absolutely horrifying. Have you read Selling Sickness? I picked up a really good book when I was living in the US - Blaming the Brain: The Truth about Drugs and Mental Health by Elliot Valenstein - one of the top neurophysiologists in the world? It confirmed what I have long suspected.

About five years, I remember the CEO of Merck said he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum manufacturer Wrigleys, 'to make drugs for healthy people, and sell to everyone' WTF!!

mental illness, especially depression, is very pervasive in Australian society but it is not generally recognized for what it is.

yes I've read Selling Sickness. It shows how the ups and downs of daily life are becoming mental disorders, and common complaints are being transformed into frightening conditions. Shyness is Social Anxiety Disorder, PMS is a psychiatric illness called PMDD, and active children now have ADHD. As more and more ordinary people are turned into patients, drug companies move ever closer to the dream of selling to everyone.

Marcia Angell's The Truth About the Drug Companies is another similar text. The prognosis for reform is a grim one due to the massive cash reserves and lobbying efforts of "Big Pharma."

The high-priced junkets offered to doctors, ostensibly offered as educational opportunities constitute little more than bribes by Big Pharma. The drug giants pay physicians to prescribe their product.

the conflicts of interest, primarily financial in nature, have infiltrated all areas of the medical profession. Physicians tainted by financial self-interest alter how they care for patients and these conflicts of interest led to the detriment of patient care.

I haven't read Valenstein's - Blaming the Brain: The Truth about Drugs and Mental Health I presume that it is arguing that theories of mental illness have shifted from blaming mother to blaming the brain. Today mental illness is held to be biochemical--a 'chemical imbalance' --and these theories are used by drug companies in marketing their products.The purely biopsychiatric hypotheses, is one that appeal strongly to, and is advocated by, the pharmaceutical companies.

The biopsychosocial model has become the bio-bio-bio model and psychiatrists are increasingly see mere pill pushers and employees of the pharmaceutical industry. As a result their credibility as a profession is compromised.

drugs replaced lobotomy as a way to deal with mental illness. Elliot Valenstein wrote a book on lobotomy. Thankfully today psychiatrists have to compete with social workers, clinical psychologists, counselors of all sorts. Most people who seek help for a mental problem do not go to a psychiatrist.