Selling Sickness

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Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients
Selling Sickness.jpg
AuthorRay Moynihan and Alan Cassels
CountryUnited States
SubjectUnnecessary health care
PublisherAllen & Unwin (Australia); Nation Books (US)
Publication date

Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients is a 2005 book by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels about unnecessary health care.


The work discusses disease mongering.[1] A summary in JAMA described the book as follows:

The book is organized as a series of case studies, each focused on a particular drug. Each chapter explores a different aspect of drug marketing, with evidence drawn from published editorials, news reports, academic journals, and, most interestingly, original interviews with physician-spokespersons and pharmaceutical sales experts.[2]


Jennifer Barrett in Newsweek said that book was an examination of how the drug industry changed public perception of health care issues.[3] A review for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said that the authors used "well-honed investigative skills" to "provide solid evidence for their claims".[4] Another reviewer said that the book was a "spirited journalistic exposure of the methods used by the pharmaceutical industry to expand the market for its products"[5] Cal Montgomery in Ragged Edge said that the book was " pitched for general audiences with no special training".[6] The Consumers Health Forum of Australia review said that the book "presented convincing examples that support the idea that growing numbers of people are unnecessarily taking medicines."[7] Judy Segal suggested in Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing that the book was "a wonderful resource for teaching rhetoric of science"; she generally praised the journalistic approach, but noted that "one might wonder if the authors are sufficiently even-handed in their reporting".[8]

Selling Sickness documentary[edit]

A Selling Sickness documentary was made as a film companion to the book. Of the film, a reviewer said that "although its critical intent is apparent throughout, it provides a complex account."[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sun Yom, Sue (September 7, 2005). "Book review - Selling Sickness: How the World's Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients". JAMA. 294 (9). doi:10.1001/jama.294.9.1114.
  3. ^ Barrett, Jennifer (August 2, 2005). "Selling Sickness to the Well". Newsweek.
  4. ^ Lippman, Abby (September 1, 2005). "September 2005: Selling Sickness". Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, M. (2005). "Selling Sickness: How Drug Companies Are Turning Us All into Patients". BMJ. 331 (7518): 701. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7518.701. PMC 1226266.
  6. ^ Montgomery, Cal (28 July 2005). "Buying Sickness". Ragged Edge. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  7. ^ Solly, Yvonne (2005–2006). "Selling sickness: how drug companies are turning us all into patients" (PDF). The Australian Health Consumer. Consumers Health Forum of Australia: 27. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  8. ^ Segal, Judy (2011). "Making pharmaceutical industry rhetoric an object of study". Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing. 23 (1).
  9. ^ Tomes, N. (2007). "Selling Sickness (review)". Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 81 (2): 440–442. doi:10.1353/bhm.2007.0055.

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