Intended for healthcare professionals


A call to challenge the “Selling of Sickness”

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2809
  1. Leonore Tiefer, convenor, New View Campaign1,
  2. Kim Witczak, co-founder, WoodyMatters2,
  3. Iona Heath, immediate past president3
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 10009, USA
  2. 2Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA
  3. 3Royal College of General Practitioners, London, UK
  1. ltiefer{at}

A partnership model for a new social health movement

The sense that medicine is out of control is generating a rising tide of concern that includes the BMJ’s Too Much Medicine campaign.1 Throughout history, unscrupulous people have preyed on our universal fears of suffering and death and made money by selling dubious remedies. The hope that the growing scientific foundation for medical practice would consign such activity to historical oblivion has proved to be a vain one. Indeed, contemporary enthusiasm for the commercialization and marketing of healthcare seems to offer ever wider opportunities to sell medical treatments. The results of medical research are often distorted or suppressed for commercial gain, and systems that attempt to control clinicians’ behaviour through payment by results drive overdiagnosis and overtreatment.2 3 Patients experience well documented harms as more and more often financial imperatives are allowed to trump clinical judgment.4 Harm is also caused by well meaning doctors trying to save lives …

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