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Hypertension - Drug Companies Know It When They See It

May 30, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Category: Gaming The System

The easiest way to increase the need for a drug product is to increase the number of people who are sick. Nobody could be so heartless to do that. But, somebody could be devious enough to convince more people they are sick.

You may soon have high blood pressure because the drug industry is funding steps to change its definition. The New York Times reports on this latest drug company effort.

Editorial: Industry's Role in Hypertension

If the American Society for Hypertension hoped to devise an expanded definition of the condition that would be scientifically and ethically defensible, it sure picked the wrong way to do it. Virtually every key step in its efforts to redefine hypertension from mere high blood pressure to a broader syndrome has been financed by pharmaceutical companies that would gain by selling drugs to more people.

As described by Stephanie Saul in The Times on May 20, Merck, Novartis and Sankyo gave the small medical society $75,000 in unrestricted grants that were used to develop a new definition, and $700,000 more in unrestricted grants that financed dinner lectures to promote the new definition. The drug companies have too much self-interest to be allowed even a peripheral role in defining illness.

Hypertension, which is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, is currently defined as a blood pressure reading of 140/90 and above. Some 65 million Americans have high blood pressure by that definition. But 59 million more are considered pre-hypertensive, which means they have blood pressure readings of at least 120/80. The new concept being debated within the society would move about half of these into the hypertension category based on other risk factors.

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