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Medical Papers By Ghostwriters Pushed Hormone Therapy 289

Posted by timothy
from the just-keep-a-positive-attitude dept.
krou writes "The New York Times reports on newly released court documents that show how pharmaceutical company Wyeth paid a medical communications firm to use ghost writers in drafting and publishing 26 papers between 1998 and 2005 backing the usage of hormone replacement therapy in women. The articles appeared in 18 journals, such as The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology. The papers 'emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia,' and the apparent 'medical consensus benefited Wyeth ... as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.' The apparent consensus crumbled after a federal study in 2002 'found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.'"
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Medical Papers By Ghostwriters Pushed Hormone Therapy

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  • by Desler (1608317) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:09PM (#28979627)
    Oh and that doesn't even address such things like that famous list that is touted around of alleged scientists that supposedly signed some document against the scientific consensus that not only didn't even verify the identity or credentials of the supposed signers, but that it also falsely listed people who don't even agree with the document.

    On April 29, 2008, environmental journalist Richard Littlemore revealed that a list of "500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares"[26] distributed by the Heartland Institute included at least 45 scientists who neither knew of their inclusion as "coauthors" of the article, nor agreed with its contents.[27] Many of the scientists asked the Heartland Institute to remove their names from the list.

    From here [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:21PM (#28979761)
    Here are few links:
    Philadelphia Inquirer [philly.com],
    UPI [upi.com] (Two quotes: "Ghostwriters paid by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Wyeth worked on dozens of articles published in medical journals under doctors' names, court documents indicate." and "A Wyeth spokesman said the ghostwritten articles were scientifically sound and subject to peer review by the journals that published them.")
    NYT [nytimes.com]
  • by Walter White (1573805) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:33PM (#28979883)

    I'm curious to know if these journals are real respected peer reviewed publications.

    It turns out that a lot of the studies being reported in the peer reviewed medical journals are funded by pharmaceutical companies. The studies that don't favor their products are simply not published.

  • by Bragador (1036480) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:37PM (#28979927)
    A peer reviewed journal doesn't tell you that the article has real unfalsified results. The job of the journal is to see if the methodology is serious. So, if you fake your results and have a very well thought out methodology, you can be published. The burden of double checking the results is given to the readers, other scientists who would like to disprove the claims. That costs money and time so most people don't do it. They prefer to publish new discoveries instead.
  • by ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:50PM (#28980051)

    I'm curious to know if these journals are real respected peer reviewed publications.

    You betcha. From the web site of one of them:

    With a 2008 impact factor of 3.453 (previously 2.917 or an 18% increase), the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology [AJOG] (The Gray Journal) is now ranked 7th of 61 journals in the Obstetrics & Gynecology category, according to the latest Journal Citation Reports(r) 2008, published by Thomson Reuters.

    from [AJOG [ajog.org]]

  • Re:Wyeth isn't alone (Score:4, Informative)

    by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:54PM (#28980095)

    It's not that the notepads and pens they handed out to doctors cost too much, it's that the trade group representing drug companies voluntarily agreed to stop the practice. [nytimes.com]

    And not only has ghostwriting been around forever, but the drug companies have long hired well-respected doctors as consultants (at high rates), or paid for them to give lectures (again, at high rates). These well-respected doctors (called 'Key Opinion Leaders') have considerable influence within their specialty.

    Disclosure: I arrange for doctors to work as consultants for drug companies.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:07PM (#28980259) Journal

    Yes, each article was reviewed, in that the reviewer made sure the sponsor company had purchased the proper number of pages of advertising with them to support the costs of including the article in their periodical.

  • by e9th (652576) <<e9th> <at> <tupodex.com>> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:53PM (#28980693)
    Some the the journals are published by Elsevier, which cropped up here last May for publishing entire bogus journals! [slashdot.org]

    Last time they pimped for Merck, now Wyeth. If anyone needs to be punished, it's Elsevier.
  • Re:I am a physician (Score:5, Informative)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @09:45PM (#28981609)

    From one doc to another, stop using atenolol. :-) Atenolol is not a particularly good beta blocker. It's advertised as a QD drug, but really should be given BID. In addition, it is renally cleared.

    I can't count the number of times the following happened: Patient's renal clearance decreases transiently for some reason. The atenolol buildy up in the system and causes hypotension and bradycardia, causing a further drop in renal clearance. And the cycle continues until the patient ends up in the ER in complete heart block and renal failure or dead.

    Use metoprolol ER (generic equivalent to toprol xl) or carvedilol. Both generic and with proven cardioprotective effects.

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