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Oops, Big Drug caught using ghost writers to pimp products?

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Is it a medical conspiracy to the nth degree?

It’s no secret that drug companies make big money from their wares, but do they cross the line between science and capitalism by hiring writers outside their own research staffs to publish “review” articles to reach conclusions supporting the drug in question?

That’s the question asked by lawyers suing pharma giant Wyeth on behalf of 8,400 women who say the company’s hormone drug caused them to develop illnesses. So far, 23 of the 31 cases set to go to trial have been resolved in Wyeth’s favor. Five have been settled out of court and the rest are on appeal.

Why is the use of ghost writers a problem? In this instance, court documents provided a paper trail that shows Wyeth contracting with a medical communications company to outline and write article, then find top physicians to sign them, even though the doctors in question contributed little or no research or writing to the projects. The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005 emphasized the benefits of hormone therapy to fight illnesses like skin disease, dementia, and heart disease, while de-emphasizing the risks.

Sales of Wyeth hormone drugs Premarin and Prempro skyrocketed to nearly $2 billion by 2001. The insidious part is that family physicians and specialists rely on medical literature when it comes time to prescribe drugs to patients. Were they influenced by what was obviously a biased source, resulting in damage to people who took it? Maybe.

The larger issue is do you believe something just because it’s written and published somewhere? Only if you’re a “maroon”, as Bugs Bunny would say. Words to the wise – everybody has an agenda and always follow the money to find the truth.

The Holistic Survival Team