It used to be joked that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is. These days, the opportunist is Big Pharma which raises your insurance premiums and taxes while providing you "low priced" drugs that you paid for.
How did Pharma get a good third of the US taking antidepressants, statins and Purple Pills, albeit at low prices? By selling the diseases of depression, high cholesterol and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD! Supply-driven marketing, also known as "Have Drug; Need Disease and Patients," not only turns the nation into pill-popping hypochondriacs, it distracts from Pharma's drought of real drugs for real medical problems.
Of course not all diseases are Wall Street pleasers. To be a true blockbuster disease, a condition must 1) really exist but have huge diagnostic "wiggle room" and no clear cut test 2) be potentially serious with "silent symptoms" said to "only get worse" if untreated 3) be "under-recognized," "under-reported" with "barriers" to treatment 4) explain hitherto vague health problems a patient has had 5) have a catchy name--ED, ADHD, RLS, Low T or IBS--and instant medical identity 6) need an expensive new drug that has no generic equivalent.
Here are some potential blockbuster diseases Pharma hopes you get in 2012.
Everyday problems labeled as "depression" sailed Pharma through the last two decades. You weren't sad, mad, scared, confused, remorseful, grieving or even exploited, you were depressed and there was a pill for that. But depression peaked just like the Atkins diet and the Macarena. Luckily there is Adult ADHD which has doubled in women 45 to 65 and tripled in men and women 20 to 44 according to the Wall Street Journal.
Like depression, adult ADHD is a catch-all category. "Is It ADHD or Menopause?" asks an article in Additude, a magazine devoted exclusively to ADHD. "ADD and Alzheimer's: Are These Diseases Related?" asks another article in the same magazine.
"I'm Depressed. Could it be ADHD?" says an ad in Psychiatric News, showing a pretty but pouting young woman. "Adults with ADHD were nearly 2x more likely to have been divorced," says another ad, called "Broken Promises," in the same publication, exhorting doctors to "screen for ADHD."