Selling Sickness Conference Takes on Disease Mongering This Week in D.C.

By Rachel Walden |

The conference is taking place in Washington, D.C. this week, focusing on the idea of “disease mongering,” or defining health and disease in a way that promotes the sales of drugs and other treatments that may be unnecessary.

Discussion topics include a number of subjects related to women’s health, including increased or inappropriate use of drugs for conditions such as osteopenia (NPR did an  a few years back on the creation of osteopenia as a disease and the drugs marketed to treat it); the problems with routine screening, such as using mammograms to detect breast cancer; and a workshop on unanswered questions on HPV vaccinations.

The conference is attracting academics, health journalists, consumer advocates, and others. Today’s line-up includes a roundtable on the women’s health movement chaired by Harriet Rosenberg of York University. From the description:

The women’s health movement that began in the 1960s challenged the status quo of medicine and heathcare across the board: clinical research, clinical practice, treatment approvals, trial conduct, pt-dr relations, patient education, disease funding, patient rights … it was a revolution. this roundtable will bring the Whm up to date and discuss what it has to offer current issues.

Participants include Colleen Fuller, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Anne Rochon Ford, Canadian Women’s Health Network; Cynthia Pearson, National Women’s Health Network; Gail Hornstein PhD, Mount Holyoke College; and Kay Dickersin, Consumers United for Evidence-Based Healthcare.

On Friday, Pearson will be joined by NWHN staff members Amy Allina and Kate Ryan to lead a symposium on “Fighting Disease-Mongering with Evidence to Protect Women’s Health.”

You can check in with the conference from afar by following and the hashtag on Twitter. Updates are also being posted on the .


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