DO you remember dysphoric social attention consumption deficit anxiety disorder?
The condition first appeared in 2007 when it was said to affect millions of Australians, leaving them with the sense something was missing in their lives.
They felt empty after a full day of shopping and didn’t feel as young as they used to. They enjoyed new things more than old things.
Fortunately, a company called Future PHARM, with a commitment “to perfecting life through chemistry” came up with a cure for this debilitating condition — Havidol (avafynetyme).
The drug and the condition were the invention of New York-based Australian artist Justine Cooper, but the parody was so close to reality she found herself fielding calls from sales reps wanting to handle the exciting new product.
Cooper was deliberately mimicking the marketing techniques of the pharmaceutical industry. However, big pharma is not the only market sector to have realised the benefits of persuading people they have a medical problem so that they can be sold the solution.
A range of alternative medicine practitioners and manufacturers have also become enthusiastic proponents of such techniques, perhaps none more so than those chiropractors who aim to convince parents their perfectly health children need regular chiropractic check-ups.
One Sydney clinic recommends children attend up to six spinal examinations a year and says chiropractic treatment is proven to be safe and effective for children of all ages.
Significant benefits are achieved in conditions including scoliosis, colic, asthma, coordination problems, chronic ear infections and “growing pains”, the site says.
Would you like a subluxation with that?
And then there’s the Victorian chiropractic group that claims spinal misalignments may be behind “many newborn health complaints such as colic, reflux, breastfeeding difficulties, and sleep disturbances”.
So that’s why newborns keep their parents up at night.
The same group has promoted itself on Facebook with a picture of a baby in a nappy and the slogan: “It’s never too early … Get a chiropractic evaluation for your child today!”
The group’s website claims its chiropractors are “minimum 5-year trained doctors”.
I haven’t checked out all of the practitioners on the site — there are rather a lot — but the ones I looked at had Bachelors of Applied Science, not medical degrees or doctorates.
It may not be illegal for them to describe themselves as doctors, given that this is not a restricted term, but it certainly has the potential to mislead.
And what about the health claims these “doctors” make? The truth is there is remarkably little evidence to support chiropractic treatment in children, especially for indications beyond the musculoskeletal.
An MJA editorial, criticising the teaching of non-evidence-based therapies by Australian universities, expressed unease about chiropractors extending their role in the health system beyond the treatment of back-related musculoskeletal problems.
“Alarmingly, some chiropractors now extend their manipulation of the spine to children, making claims that this can cure asthma, allergies, bedwetting, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, colic, fever and numerous other problems, and serve as a substitute for vaccination”, the editorial said.
Jane McCredie is a Sydney-based science and medicine writer.