Selling Sickness: People Before Profits – Washington DC conference, Feb. 20-22

Is there momentum for exploration of disease-mongering?

In 2006, an Inaugural Congress on Disease Mongering met in Australia.

In October of 2010, I flew to Amsterdam to attend an international conference called “Selling Sickness.”

Well, “Selling Sickness” comes to the U.S. February 20-22 – with a conference, “Selling Sickness 2013:  People Before Profits,” in Washington, DC.

(Although it might be pointed out that “selling sickness” has, indeed, in practice, already come to the U.S. and may have even been invented here.)

The driving force behind the event is Kim Witczak, whose husband Woody committed suicide while taking an antidepressant that was prescribed for insomnia, according to the Woody Matters website that Kim created. She attended the Amsterdam 2010 event and was immediately inspired to plan a U.S. version.  Her co-organizer was Leonore Tiefer, PhD, who may be best known for her writings about the disease-mongering of female sexual dysfunction.

A pdf file of the program and schedule is available online.

Speakers include:

  • John Abramson, MD, Harvard
  • Shannon Brownlee, author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer
  • Alan Cassels, co-author of Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients
  • Jim Guest, president and CEO, Consumers Union
  • Paul Thacker, former U.S. Senate investigator
  • Sidney Wolfe, MD, Public Citizen Health Research Group
  • and many others, including me.

I’ll moderate a roundtable discussion on the dissemination of health care news from journals and journalists.  A quick search using “disease-mongering” as our search term yields many results of things we’ve written about on the topic in recent years, including the sub-themes of:

  • the DSM-V “bible of psychiatry”
  • pre-colds, pre-diabetes, pre-cancer, pre-death
  • female sexual dysfunction, female orgasmic disorder, female genital cosmetic surgery, menopause
  • low testosterone
  • not GERD but NERD (non-erosive reflux disease)
  • preventive MRI scans
  • overactive bladder
  • osteopenia
  • aging
  • baldness
  • premature ejaculation
  • “runner’s face”…”pizza mouth burn”….”fighting cleavage wrinkles”…it’s endless.

To get the full context on what we’ve written about these topics, you’ll need to search on the site.

Maybe I’ll see you in Washington.


Addendum on May 21:  The BMJ published an editorial,A call to challenge the ‘Selling of Sickness.’


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Joleen Chambers

February 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

We will meet there. @JjrkCh and blogspot, Failed Implanted Device Alliance. Kim Witczak was one of the first patient advocates I met in DC. Her admonition to ‘follow the money’ has been true north for my research. I look forward to learning from all presenters and participants.


February 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

Thanks for the information on this important event! Do you know whether there will be live-streaming or vidoes of the presentations to watch afterwards? What is the conf. twitter hashtag?

    Gary Schwitzer

    February 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm


    Sorry but I don’t know either answer. Check conference website.