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Ghostwriters Produced Journal Articles Promoting Hormone Therapy

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Drug maker Wyeth paid a medical communications firm to help produce 26 studies supporting the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, which were published in 18 medical journals between 1998 and 2005, The New York Times reported.

The articles were typically review articles, in which authors analyze a large body of medical research in order to recommend how best to treat a medical problem. None of the papers disclosed Wyeth's role in initiating and funding the work.

Documents about Wyeth's use of ghostwriters for the medical journal articles were uncovered by lawyers suing the drug company, The Times reported.

Sales of Wyeth's hormone replacement drugs, Premarin and Prempro, reached nearly $2 billion in 2001. But sales of all HRT drugs fell after a U.S. government study was halted in 2002 when researchers found the drugs increased the risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia.

The ghostwritten articles were scientifically accurate, a Wyeth spokesman told The Times.

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It's precisely this sort of "sell at any cost" (as opposed to "safety first") mentality that should lead consumers to be very wary of drug and device manufacturers. Thank goodness for the Supreme Court's decision in Wyeth v. Levine, and here's hoping the Medical Device Act passes soon. http://tinyurl.com/lqzhde

August 5, 2009 - 12:17pm
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