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Lifestyle drug

Pronounced /lɡɪfˌstɡɪl drʌɡ/Help with pronunciation

This is a pharmaceutical which is taken not to relieve or cure a medical condition, but to improve the quality of life of the person taking it. But there is dispute about what constitutes a medical condition that needs treatment and what is just cosmetic, discretionary or even unnecessary. The phrase is commonly used disparagingly by journalists, especially in Britain, where it is feared the cost of fashionable treatments may cause financial problems to the cash-strapped National Health Service. The matter has come up recently concerning Viagra, a new drug to treat male impotence that has created huge public interest both in the USA and Britain (though sales in the US are now reportedly already only a third of the level reached soon after its launch earlier this year). Another such drug is Xenical, a treatment for severe obesity that was released in Britain last month.

Magee contends Viagra is medically necessary for several reasons and is not a “recreational” or “lifestyle” drug. In addition, it gets men into treatment for conditions that otherwise may not have been diagnosed, he said.

Nando Times, Aug. 1998

It is as likely that Xenical will be used only to combat life-threatening obesity as it is that Viagra will be used only to treat clinical, diagnosed impotence. We’re talking about a lifestyle drug here, one that enables us to have it all: the pleasures of food with few of the calories.

Daily Mail, Sep. 1998

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 24 Oct. 1998

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-lif1.htm
Last modified: 24 October 1998.