Is ugliness a disease?

Something strange is happening in medicine, according to physician,  bioethicist and author Dr. Carl Elliott in his landmark article in The Guardian called Is Ugliness a Disease?  No longer, he claims, is medicine being used merely to cure illness. Medicine is now being used in the pursuit of happiness. We take Viagra at bedtime and Ritalin before work. We inject Botox into our wrinkled brows and rub Rogaine on our balding heads. We swallow Paxil for shyness, Prozac for grief, and Buspar for anxiety.

“For stage fright we use beta blockers; for excessive blushing and sweating, we get endoscopic surgery. We ask surgeons to trim down our noses and suck fat from our thighs in the pursuit of what we believe to be our true selves.  Continue reading

The Drug Pushers

What has become a classic must-read for those interested in getting an insider’s perspective on drug marketing is bioethicist Dr. Carl Elliotts April 2006 piece in The Atlantic called The Drug Pushers.

It starts by describing the ‘good old days’ when his own Dad was a family doctor whose waiting room would be filled with serious, conservatively-dressed men with large heavy briefcases and sensible shoes. These were salesmen of the drug companies, and were known as ‘detail men’.  Elliott continues:

“Today, detail men are officially known as ‘pharmaceutical sales representatives,’ but everyone I know calls them ‘drug reps.’ Drug reps are still easy to spot in a clinic or hospital, but for slightly different reasons.

“The most obvious is their appearance. It is probably fair to say that doctors, pharmacists, and medical school professors are not generally admired for their good looks and fashion sense. Against this backdrop, the average drug rep looks like a supermodel, or maybe an A-list movie star. Drug reps today are often young, well groomed, and strikingly good-looking. Many are women. They are usually affable and smart. Many give off a kind of glow, as if they had just emerged from a spa or salon. And they are always, hands down, the best-dressed people in the hospital.” Continue reading