How To Brand A Disease

EDITOR’S NOTE: Originally Posted on 11 October 2010 and still proof that marketing knows no bounds.

Found this great little gem in CNN, How to Brand A Disease – And Sell A Cure, which discusses what pharmaceutical companies do to get their drugs on the government subsidy lists.

They brand a disease. (How come I never thought about that before?)

The thinking goes along these lines:

  • Think less about selling and more about creating conditions for sale.
  • Persuade journalists to write about “new trends” (that’s the disease, folks)
  • Once the disease is well-known and, well, socially acceptable, drugs are made available.

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 CNN, the disease branding strategy works well for 2 types of diseases:

1 Those that are shameful conditions that can be destigmatized and
2 Those conditions that can be plausibly portrayed as under-diagnosed.

It’s true. Marketing knows no bounds.

Check the rest of the story out at CNN or read more about Brand Strategy.


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