4/09/2001 – Ghostwriting Articles for Medical Journals

Dennis Silver, who serves as webmaster for the Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?
website (members.aol.com/atracyphd), has just brought to our attention an
amazing article from CBS Health Watch. In the ten years I have been fighting
this battle to get the truth out to the public about what goes on behind the
scenes in medcine this strikes at the heart of the issue like no other!

As I did the research for my book I was appalled at the difference in the
studies on serotonin BEFORE the development of the SSRIs and the studies
being published on serotonin AFTER and during the development of the SSRI
antidepressants. It was clear to me that the drug companies were manipulating
the science to build a market for their drugs. It was as if the new studies
were contradicting the old studies. Truth is consistent not variable. It was
clear something had changed. I say BRAVO!!! to CBS and to Dr. Marcia Angell,
former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, who has worked hard to
expose this situation over the last year or so! Thank you for demonstrating
that integrity still exists in our country by exposing those with no
knowledge of what integrity is.

Note how the spokesperson for Wythe Ayers justifies their criminal behavior
with the same old line: “well everyone else does it too.”

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org

http://cbshealthwatch.medscape.com/medscape/p/G_Library/article.asp?RecId=2381

64&FA=1&SP=undefined

Ghostwriting Articles for Medical Journals

April 5 (CBS) Amidst the billion-dollar competition to create the newest
blockbuster drug, there’s one thing worth more than all the ads money can
buy: a single positive mention in a respected medical journal. Doctors rely
so heavily on what’s printed in journals that a drug’s success or failure may
be directly affected.

Now, many drug companies are actually writing those articles and then paying
doctors to sign their names to them. It’s called ghostwriting, reports CBS
News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

“The articles are written by drug company researchers, given to an outside
doctor to review and sign his or her name to, and then submitted to a
journal. In effect, it’s like washing dirty money,” explains Douglas Peters,
a medical malpractice attorney.

It’s not illegal, but it can be misleading.

Critics say that’s just what happened when Wyeth-Ayerst wanted to create a
market demand for its “fen-phen” diet drug, Redux.

Wyeth hired a middleman, a company called Excerpta Medica, to write and get
published nine medical journal articles on Redux. Excerpta paid doctors to
review and sign the articles, then submitted them to journals with no mention
of Wyeth. Excerpta claims it told the doctors that Wyeth was behind all of
it.

But Dr. Richard Atkinson, a professor of medicine and nutritional sciences
and the director of the Beers-Murphy Clinical Nutrition Center at the
University of Wisconsin Madison Medical School, says he wasn’t told. He
reviewed and signed one of those Redux papers thinking Excerpta was an
independent researcher, he says.

“If I knew that a drug company had some role, whatever role, in sponsoring a
talk, an article, a symposium, whatever, I think I would be more on my guard
to make sure that there was not any bias introduced,” says Atkinson.

Biased literature can make a drug sound better or safer than it really is.
And unbeknownst to most doctors, it’s even finding its way into the most
respected medical journals.

Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, says
that as time passed she was getting more and more ghostwritten papers.

“A drug company that controls the data and has a ghostwriter writing the
paper may neglect to write about the side effects of a drug,” says Angell.

In a deposition on January 15, 1999, former Wyeth executive Jo Alene Dolan
said all drug companies ghostwrite, but it doesn’t mean the articles aren’t
accurate.

When questioned about Atkinson’s article, she said, “Apparently we wrote this
article for him.” She was then asked if it was bought and paid for by
Wyeth-Ayerst and replied, “I’m not sure that’s the way I would characterize
it. It was funded by Wyeth-Ayerst.”

Yet Wyeth’s middleman, Excerpta Medica, claims it doesn’t ghostwrite. It says
it “facilitates,” that doctors always know about drug industry involvement,
and that “the author has final editing authority.”

Atkinson did tell Excerpta that article may make Redux “sound better than it
really is” and suggested some changes. But before the article could be
published, Redux was linked to heart and lung problems and pulled from the
market.

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