Dynamist Blog

Come Back When You're Ready to Kill Yourself

Traditional British stoicism ("suffering builds character") meets socialist financial constraints in the latest attack on pharmaceutical companies. The Telegraph reports:

In evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, the [Royal College of General Practitioners] accuses the companies of over-playing the dangers of conditions such as mild depression or slightly raised blood pressure.

Dr Maureen Baker, the college's honorary secretary, wants the Commons health inquiry to investigate the companies' practices.

"It would be fruitful to look into the increase in disease-mongering by them," she told The Sunday Telegraph.

"It is very much in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry to draw a line that includes as large a population as possible within the 'ill' category. The bigger this group is, the more drugs they can sell. If current trends continue, publicly funded health-care systems will be at risk of financial collapse with huge cost to society as a whole."

The college lists hypertension, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression as examples of common conditions that, in mild forms, are often inappropriately treated with drugs.

As someone who suffers from mild depression--which doesn't seem mild when you have it--I'm glad these people don't get to decide whether I'm sick enough to merit medication. Of course, some members of the Kass Commission might welcome that prospect--a valuable reminder of the dangers of government provision of health care. He who pays ultimately determines what's worth paying for. (As for cholesterol and hypertension, I guess they're not "diseases" until you've had a heart attack or stroke.)

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