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

By Rachel Walden — February 21, 2013

selling sickness 2013 people before profitsThe Selling Sickness 2013 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 excellent story 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 @sellingsickness and the hashtag #sellingsickness on Twitter. Updates are also being posted on the conference Facebook page.

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