Wyeth said to have paid ghostwriters for favorable journal articles


According to an article posted to the the N.Y. Times‘ website today, drug maker Wyeth has turned over to the Senate Finance Committee a mountain of material on its practice of paying ghostwriters to prepare favorable articles for publication in medical journals. Physicians were then recruited to put their names on the articles. In some cases, the articles made drugs sound more effective or less dangerous than clinical studies were showing them to be. “‘Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, that can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that may not work and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling,’ Mr. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Friday to Wyeth’s chairman and chief executive, Bernard J. Poussot.”

The dishonesty has other implications, as well:

Such activities would seem to run afoul of medical journal guidelines. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says authorship means “substantive intellectual contributions” including conception or analysis of the subject and drafting or critical revision of the document. The World Association of Medical Editors says ghost authorship — which it defines as a substantial contribution not mentioned in the manuscript — is “dishonest and unacceptable.”

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