Medical Papers by Ghostwriters
Natasha Singer of the NY Times published this article on the pernicious influence of the pharmaceutical industry on published medical literature. In her article, Singer documents that Wyeth paid a ghost writing firm $25,000 to write an article about hormone replacement therapy for the symptoms of menopause, elicit an academic physician to sign on as author, and then place the review article in a prominent journal without acknowledging the process of how the article was written. Apparently, from 1998 to 2005, 26 'scientific' paper were prepared in this way, appearing in 18 different medical journals, all "emphasiz(ing) the benefits and de-emphasiz(ing) the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001." In 2002, a federally funded study on hormone replacement therapy was stopped when "researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients."
The urge to sell drugs at a profit has made the purchase of 'scientific consensus' one of the tools of the pharmaceutical trade. Shame on the medical school faculty who signed on to this scheme. The journals which published these articles must do some serious retrenching. But this is what happens when profit becomes more important than patients, which is the inevitable result of allowing the pretense that health care is a commodity traded in 'the market'. We, the American people, have only ourselves to blame for that.
Dr. Joe Jarvis