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." The documents showed how Wyeth used the communications company "to outline articles, draft them and then solicit top physicians to sign their names, even though many of the doctors contributed little or no writing". This particular case appears to only scratch the surface, however, as the documents also suggest that other pharmaceutical companies are involved in the practice, covering a number of other drugs.
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