The phrase “disease mongering” has become a prominent feature of the wider critique of pharmaceutical marketing. Disease mongering refers to drug companies’ involvement in informing the lay public and health professionals about the illnesses targeted by their products. Typically, drug promotion is claimed to intentionally distort perceptions of the seriousness or treatability of disease or condition to sell drugs. The main concern is that drug promotion results in excessive drug demand. “Disease mongering” is clearly aimed at drug companies, however, the phrase reaches further and extends to us all with its often implicit critical commentary on contemporary social life. In this report, describe the results of an interview study with critics of pharmaceutical marketing. We explore what disease mongering implies or assumes about the contemporary world, particularly the doctors and consumers who inhabit it, and why such a critique is considered necessary. The potency of the drug promotion, the hubris of doctors the susceptibility of consumers were the main themes interpreted in the data. The disease mongering critique can be seen as part of a more general critique of the processes of “biomedicalisation” and “pharmaceuticalisation.”


Disease Mongering, Pharmaceutical Marketing, Biomedicalisation, Pharmaceuticalisation, Grounded Theory


Declaration of conflicting interests: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research for this article: Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (0877633).

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