The topic of disease mongering, or essentially scaring people into thinking that they are abnormal or in need of medical treatment (usually done by pharmaceutical companies), is one that has interested me for a number of years. As one working in the field of vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases I find the topic of disease mongering a relevant one. Frankly, one rarely hears that phrase in connection with the vaccine world (at least among public health professionals), although I know that some in the general public think of some vaccines in that way (thinking of the chickenpox vaccine).
There is a hesitancy among public health professionals to question new treatments, new vaccines, etc. Rather, they are usually simply promoted as a new and good option. And certainly the media are rarely helpful in taking the public critically through new public health or medical options. But, at least in the field of public health, it seems to me that we ought to be especially willing to critically think about new drugs, etc because while there may be some similar goals between pharmaceutical companies and public health (improving health), there also are some fundamental differences, key among them being the drug companies' drive for profit.
Public health professionals, at the local, state, and federal levels have something of a unique opportunity to critically think about, and impact, these disease mongering issues because public health frequently has the trust of the public, they usually are not paid by pharmaceutical companies, and they are uniquely charged with improving the health of their local population. Whatever actions we, as public health professionals, or the public ultimately decide to take regarding new health-related interventions, let's hope that we have critically examined the options, the source of the information, and the health benefit before deciding one way or the other.
Click here for a very interesting, and newly published, article on this topic called, "Disease Mongering is Now Part of the Global Health Debate"http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050106#journal-pmed-0050106-b008
Also, wondering whether that recent news report was mostly disease mongering? Check here:http://www.healthnewsreview.org/