Fibromyalgia. It sounds so daunting — like angina! which also sounds like vagina, or chlamydia. And if the pharmaceutical industry's multibillion-dollar marketing machine has any sort of pathway into your consuming psyche, you're probably aware of this hot new disease. Hasn't the industry gotten so much better at naming new maladies since the whole dubious "restless leg syndrome" thing? Anyway, here's fibromyalgia in brief: it affects primarily women around their middle ages — potentially 10 million of them in this country according to advocacy group, which means something like one in five. You'll know you have it if you start to feel "chronic, widespread pain of unknown origin." The pain won't respond to anti-inflammatories, and no one knows where it comes from really, so instead of trying to sell you on something to soothe the pain, the pharmaceutical companies — namely Pfizer — is trying to soothe your brain's perception of pain. Clever! Okay, so here's the shocker: some people think fibromyalgia is a bit, you know, fictionyalgia. And "some people" includes the doctor who named it in the first place.
Why invent a disease? Well, if you've got a drug with a limited market — like Pfizer's Lyrica, originally developed for seizures, it's pretty genius business to make up a mysterious new ailment that a lot of people could potentially have or be scared they have. Where do you think ADD came from? What about "bipolar disorder"? "Irritable bowel syndrome"? Oh sure, those diseases affect one in 1.5 Americans, and we have them too, but:
...Those figures are sharply disputed by those doctors who do not consider fibromyalgia a medically recognizable illness and who say that diagnosing the condition actually worsens suffering by causing patients to obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate.
But why tolerate when you can obsess? And speaking of obsessing, did you know ADD makes people obsessive? I should be done with this post already but I didn't have enough amphetamines today. What about you?
Drug Approved. Is Disease Real? [NY Times]