June 2005

Arts & Letters

‘Selling Sickness’ by Ray Moynihan & Alan Cassels

By Gail Bell

Ray Moynihan has been pursuing the pharmaceutical giants for more than a decade, first with his TV series and book Too Much Medicine? and now – in collaboration with Canadian researcher Alan Cassels – in a new assault that might just draw blood. In Selling Sickness he lets loose a fresh pack of hounds to stalk the big guys behind some of the biggest medical cons since phrenologists’ bump charts.

Having trouble keeping up? Busy drumming your fingers as you wait for clarity to descend? Ciba–Geigy and Eli Lilly & Co can help. “Many adults have been living with adult attention deficit disorder and don’t recognize it. Why? Because its symptoms are often mistaken for stressful life.” Got that distracted feeling when you open a cupboard and can’t remember what you were looking for? It’s almost certainly neurobiological. ADD is not just for kids; in the hands of a Manhattan-based marketing professional, backed by pharmaceutical money and muscle, it has become a “lifespan condition” requiring a lifetime’s worth of medication.

This book will alarm and alert you to what is really happening to the boundaries between sickness and health. Advertising experts, now embedded in the frontlines of the pharmaceutical industry, are busy “branding a condition” – like Adult ADD – where none existed before. Read the (slightly repetitive) chapters on cholesterol and high blood pressure and nod in surprise at how the sickness business works. Moynihan and Cassels quote insiders and whistleblowers in page after page of testimony that is convincing and edgy.

Gail Bell
Gail Bell has worked as a pharmacist, educator and writer. Her books include The Poison Principle and Shot: A Personal Response to Guns and Trauma.

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