By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor
The template goes something like this: Start with a legitimate quality-of-life issue — like fitful sleep or shyness — that does not yet have its own prescription medication and is debilitating to a few people a lot of the time. Next, position the quality-of-life issue as a medical condition with symptoms so common it covers vast numbers of people who had previously not identified themselves as having a health problem, or who thought they were just experiencing an occasional and normal annoyance.
According to the rest of this article in the NY Times, the latest disorder about to enter our dictionary of accepted medical conditions is premature ejaculation (PE). Several companies are developing treatments in the form of pills or aerosol sprays. The net of nonspecific symptoms seems to have been cast fairly wide—a representative of one drug company is quoted as saying that one in three men have this condition.
Celebrities may soon be confessing that the anxiety occasioned by PE has led to ruined marriages, depression, drug use, and even the use of prostitutes. The ironies of the media campaign to push the term PE into our medical lexicon are worth considering as our legislators debate health care reform provisions and the crisis of rising costs. Medical bankruptcy is on the rise. Many cannot afford medications they need for serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
It may be premature to suggest it, but it seems likely the pharmaceutical companies expect health care reform legislation to result in few new limitations on their ability to direct market their drugs to consumers, to create markets for conditions that formerly didn’t exist, and to create a whole body of ghostwritten literature that can be cited as evidence.