Search - User Network
Search - Video
Search - Categories
Search - Contacts
Search - News
Search - News Feeds
Search - Tags

How drug companies deceive doctors and how hire ghostwriters to produce articles

qq011Following doctor’s orders has become synonymous with danger. Every year, FDA approved drugs kill twice as many people as the total number of U.S. deaths from the Vietnam War. Death by medicine flourishes because deceit, not science, governs a doctor’s prescribing habits. This deceit comes in many forms. Medical ghostwriting and checkbook science are the most prominent.


Doctors rely on peer-reviewed medical journals to learn about prescription drugs. These journals include the Lancet, British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. It is assumed that these professional journals offer the hard science behind any given drug. This assumption is wrong. Medical journals can’t be trusted thanks to medical ghost writing. Medical ghostwriting is the practice of hiring PhD’s to crank out drug reports that hype benefits and hide negative side effects. Once complete, drug companies recruit doctor’s to put their name on the report as authors. These reports are then published in the above mentioned medical journals. The carrot for this deceitful practice is money and prestige. Ghostwriters can receive up to $20,000 per report. Doctors receive prestige from having been published. Ultimately, patients get bad drugs disguised as good medicine.


As deplorable as medical ghostwriting sounds, it is more common than you think. Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor for the New England Journal of Medicine, insists that he cannot find drug review authors who do not have financial ties to drug companies. As a result, the journal had to relax their conflict-of-interest rules for authors in 2000. Dr. David Healy, of the University of Whales predicts that 50% of the journals drug review articles are written by ghostwriters.

The editor of the British Journal of Medicine has acknowledged that medical ghostwriting has become a serious problem for his publication: “We are being hoodwinked by the drug companies. The articles come in with doctors’ names on them and we often find some of them have little or no idea about what they have written.”

Consider the testimony from deputy editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association: “This [journal articles] is all about bypassing science. Medicine is becoming a sort of Cloud Cuckoo Land, where doctors don’t know what papers they can trust in the journals, and the public doesn’t want to believe.”

Other weapons of mass deception exist – checkbook science. As defined by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, checkbook science is research intended not to expand knowledge or to benefit humanity, but instead to sell drugs. It has stolen the very soul of University research, scientific method, and the patients who serve as human subjects.



Drug companies use checkbook science to sponsor their own drug research via the halls of academia and government institutions. Money is used to design their own studies, interpret the results, and stuff negative data under the drug-rug. The drug-rug is a behemoth rug. It has to be. A myriad of negative drug data exists.

Like medical ghostwriting, checkbook science is more common than you think. A third of academic professors have personal financial ties to drug makers. Called the “Stealth Merger” by the LA Times, top scientists at the National Institutes of Health also collect paychecks and stock options from the drug industry. This has been going on for over 20 years. Known as the Bayh-Dole Act, U.S law was amended in 1980 to allow for these flagrant conflicts of interest.

This calculated deceit is scandalous. Hopefully the line at the pharmaceutical trough gets shorter as this scandal becomes public. Though, drug makers have an insurance policy for this – Direct-to-Consumer advertising. The oft repeated “ask your doctor” ensures that the herd instinctively embraces drugs, drugs and more drugs.

Understanding medical ghost writing and checkbook science explains why medical doctors have been hypnotized into drug worship – they only see the positive. It also explains why modern medicine is more deadly and lucrative than war – the danger has been silenced with the pen and money.



Drug companies do not take responsibility for the wonton prescription drug deceit. Instead, victims have been made invisible - dehumanized. They are not recognized as children, or men with significant contribution to society. Their deaths are simply shrugged off and attributed to sickness or aging.

Those who profit from prescription drugs should hold some sort of record for the having the most reckless disregard for human life. If the deceit continues the prescription drug leviathan will silently kill more people than Napalm dropped on Vietnamese villages.


Pharmaceutical giants hire ghostwriters to produce articles - then put doctors' names on them

Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies, an Observer inquiry reveals. The journals, bibles of the profession, have huge influence on which drugs doctors prescribe and the treatment hospitals provide. But The Observer has uncovered evidence that many articles written by so-called independent academics may have been penned by writers working for agencies which receive huge sums from drug companies to plug their products.

Estimates suggest that almost half of all articles published in journals are by ghostwriters. While doctors who have put their names to the papers can be paid handsomely for 'lending' their reputations, the ghostwriters remain hidden. They, and the involvement of the pharmaceutical firms, are rarely revealed.

These papers endorsing certain drugs are paraded in front of GPs as independent research to persuade them to prescribe the drugs. In February the New England Journal of Medicine was forced to retract an article published last year by doctors from Imperial College in London and the National Heart Institute on treating a type of heart problem. It emerged that several of the listed authors had little or nothing to do with the research. The deception was revealed only when German cardiologist Dr Hubert Seggewiss, one of the eight listed authors, called the editor of the journal to say he had never seen any version of the paper.

An article published last February in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology , which specialises in stomach disorders, involved a medical writer working for drug giant AstraZeneca - a fact that was not revealed by the author.


The article, by a German doctor, acknowledged the 'contribution' of Dr Madeline Frame, but did not admit that she was a senior medical writer for AstraZeneca. The article essentially supported the use of a drug called Omeprazole - which is manufactured by AstraZeneca - for gastric ulcers, despite suggestions that it gave rise to more adverse reactions than similar drugs.

Few within the industry are brave enough to break cover. However, Susanna Rees, an editorial assistant with a medical writing agency until 2002, was so concerned about what she witnessed that she posted a letter on the British Medical Journal website.

'Medical writing agencies go to great lengths to disguise the fact that the papers they ghostwrite and submit to journals and conferences are ghostwritten on behalf of pharmaceutical companies and not by the named authors,' she wrote. 'There is a relatively high success rate for ghostwritten submissions - not outstanding, but consistent.'

Rees said part of her job had been to ensure that any article that was submitted electronically would give no clues as to the origin of the research.

'One standard procedure I have used states that before a paper is submitted to a journal electronically or on disc, the editorial assistant must open the file properties of the Word document manuscript and remove the names of the medical writing agency or agency ghostwriter or pharmaceutical company and replace these with the name and institution of the person who has been invited by the pharmaceutical drug company (or the agency acting on its behalf) to be named as lead author, but who may have had no actual input into the paper,' she wrote.

When contacted, Rees declined to give any details. 'I signed a confidentiality agreement and am unable to comment,' she said.

A medical writer who has worked for a number of agencies did not want to be identified for fear he would not get any work again.

'It is true that sometimes a drug company will pay a medical writer to write a review article supporting a particular drug,' he said. 'This will mean using all published information to write an article explaining the benefits of a particular treatment.

'A recognised doctor will then be found to put his or her name to it and it will be submitted to a journal without anybody knowing that a ghostwriter or a drug company is behind it. I agree this is probably unethical, but all the firms are at it.'

One field where ghostwriting is becoming an increasing problem is psychiatry.

Dr David Healy, of the University of Wales, was doing research on the possible dangers of anti-depressants, when a drug manufacturer's representative emailed him with an offer of help. The email, seen by The Observer, said: 'In order to reduce your workload to a minimum, we have had our ghostwriter produce a first draft based on your published work. I attach it here.'

The article was a 12-page review paper ready to be presented at an forthcoming conference. Healy's name appeared as the sole author, even though he had never seen a single word of it before. But he was unhappy with the glowing review of the drug in question, so he suggested some changes.



The company replied, saying he had missed some 'commercially important' points. In the end, the ghostwritten paper appeared at the conference and in a psychiatric journal in its original form - under another doctor's name.

Healy says such deception is becoming more frequent. 'I believe 50 per cent of articles on drugs in the major medical journals are not written in a way that the average person would expect them to be... the evidence I have seen would suggest there are grounds to think a significant proportion of the articles in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal and the Lancet may be written with help from medical writing agencies,' he said. 'They are no more than infomercials paid for by drug firms.'

In the United States a legal case brought against drug firm Pfizer turned up internal company documents showing that it employed a New York medical writing agency. One document analyses articles about the anti-depressant Zoloft. Some of the articles lacked only one thing: a doctor's name. In the margin the agency had put the initials TBD, which Healy assumes means 'to be determined'.

Dr Richard Smith, editor of the British Journal of Medicine, admitted ghostwriting was a 'very big problem' . 'We are being hoodwinked by the drug companies. The articles come in with doctors' names on them and we often find some of them have little or no idea about what they have written,' he said.

'When we find out, we reject the paper, but it is very difficult. In a sense, we have brought it on ourselves by insisting that any involvement by a drug company should be made explicit. They have just found ways to get round this and go undercover.'

 

 

 

00network

butt-recent3
butt-recent3-001scienc
butt-recent3-002spac
butt-recent3-003-off

  

000mostREAD2

 user network - make A history
nmfscd - net label
free cult albums - make A history

00top5

 

00postersCOM