This 'Medical Condition' was literally Invented By Marketers
Do Marketers sometime go too far?
The "Medical Condition" Invented By Listerine
One of the most notable examples of a "solution finding a problem" was Listerine. Though humans have always had liquids and tonics to freshen breath, the company fabricated a healthcare issue - and subsequently watched profits surge dramatically.
Listerine was originally developed in the 1880s, as people increasingly embraced the idea of not living each day immersed in bacteria. It wasn't initially used as a mouth rinse. Nor was it readily available. A prescription was necessary to obtain it – during times where morphine could be purchased over-the-counter.
Listerine was applied to wounds or locations prone to infections. A major site for germs was the mouth. The human oral cavity isn't very sanitary, has constant moisture and frequent movement. Creams and sterile dressings aren't practical solutions. Listerine, unexpectedly, performed very well at killing microbes in the mouth. Eventually gaining over-the-shelf status, people swigged it frequently, but not sufficiently for J.W. Lambert, owner of the company. His child, Gerard, devised one term that made the merchandise take off – halitosis.
Various companies were furnishing the budding middle classes ways to address their personal anxieties. Listerine distributed advertisements across many papers speaking about sad, unmarried Edna, who stayed solitary as she watched friends marry. It wasn't that she lacked personality! It was just that, she had this difficulty.
They adapted the word halitosis from halitus, the Latin term for breath, and "osis," which sounded clinical. Consequently, individuals began believing they had a treatable condition, not just an embarrassing flaw to mask. They felt assured visiting drugstores - and pretty much nowhere else, since ads emphasized that "your closest friends won't tell you" about the problem - requesting the remedy.
While certain present-day firms appear to medicalize issues for their solutions to resolve (hint: yogurt makers!), Listerine was the earliest and most famous achievement of medicalization.