Published on: Schott's Vocab
Hyping the profile of a medical condition in order to sell its treatment.
Writing for CNN, Carl Elliott compared the modern marketing of certain medicines with Edward Bernays’s idea, in the 1920s, of selling pianos by popularizing the idea that sophisticates had music rooms:
Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is “disease branding.”
To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Panic disorder, reflux disease, erectile dysfunction, restless legs syndrome, bipolar disorder, overactive bladder, ADHD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, even clinical depression: All these conditions were once regarded as rare until a marketing campaign transformed the brand.
Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea.According to Elliott, “disease branding” works best when a condition can be de-stigmatized, or when one can imply that a condition is under-diagnosed