Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Education And Debate

The marketing of a disease: female sexual dysfunction

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 20 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:192

Rapid Response:

Disease marketing and doping

I cannot help thinking that if you need a multilayered global
marketing campaign, several public relations companies and major
advertising firms, and a budget of $100m, according to the data presented
by Moynihan [1], to create awareness of an ‘illness’ affecting a major
segment of the world population, then all those sufferers must be either
comatose or completely daft not to realize their dire predicament.
Alternatively, the implications of the disease in question are grossly

Surely the promotion of female sexual dysfunction as a disease that
must be treated (at a huge profit) cannot be dissociated from the image
making business, be it cinema, fashion modeling, or plain commercial
advertising. The Western world is deluged daily by pictures, still and
moving, of men and women who look, dress, act and behave in a certain way,
and can perform physical or sexual feats over and above the average
mortal, who suffers from diurnal and seasonal variations in his or her
prowess or simply from human frailty and unhappiness. This brainwashing
has the effect that anybody whose performance is below par is compelled to
feel unwell and in need of a ‘booster’. Anabolic steroids represent such
boosters for athletes, and are rightly banned from legitimate use. Should
we not view sex steroids in a similar light?

1. Moynihan R. The marketing of a disease: female sexual dysfunction.
BMJ 2005;330:192-194.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 January 2005
Anthony Papagiannis
Respiratory physician
St Luke's Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece