For and againstDirect to consumer advertising is medicalising normalhuman experienceIn direct to consumer advertising, drug companies target advertisements for prescription drugsdirectly at the public. Barbara Mintzes argues that this type of advertising risks medicalising normalhuman conditions, with the drug companies raking in increasingly healthy profits. Silvia NBonaccorso and Jeffrey L Sturchio argue that, through advertising, drug companies can enablepatients to make better informed choices about their health and treatmentFORIn October 2001, GlaxoSmithKline ranan advertisement in theNew York TimesMagazinefor paroxetine (known as Paxil in the UnitedStates). A woman is walking on a crowded street, herface strained, in a crowd otherwise blurred. The head-linereads,“Millionssufferfromchronicanxiety.Millions could be helped by Paxil.”No doubt many New Yorkers felt anxious in theaftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center,experiencing symptoms highlighted in the advertise-ment, such as worry, anxiety, or irritability. At whatpoint does an understandable response to distressinglife events become an indication for drug treatment—and a market opportunity?Kawachi and Conrad describe medicalisation as a“processbywhichnon-medicalproblemsbecomedefined and treated as medical problems, usually interms of illnesses and disorders,” decontextualizinghuman problems and turning attention from the socialenvironment to the individual.
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