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Medical journal papers promoting HRT drugs ghostwritten by major drug company

Thursday, September 09, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: drug companies, ghostwriting, health news

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(NaturalNews) Increasing numbers of people are becoming aware that the drug industry is fraught with illegitimate studies promoting dangerous drugs, fraudulent marketing tactics and shady conflicts of interest. And a new analysis by researchers out of Georgetown University Medical Center has added more fuel to the fire. According to reports, drug-giant Wyeth--which is now owned by Pfizer--paid consultants thousands of dollars to ghostwrite articles for medical journals promoting synthetic hormone replacement drugs.

Synthetic hormone replacement drugs like Wyeth's Prempro experienced a significant drop in sales after a 2002 study found that the drugs greatly increase women's risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers, as well as strokes and other serious illnesses. Prempro sales, for instance, have fallen by 50 percent since 2001 as a result.

In an attempt to boost sales and reestablish public confidence in the dangerous drugs, Wyeth allegedly resorted to paying DesignWrite, a medical communications company, $25,000 to write positive articles about the drug. Wyeth also paid the company to write 20 positive review articles about its drug at $20,000 a pop.

These articles were designed not only to convince the public that the drugs are safe, but to suggest that they be used for unapproved uses such as to prevent heart disease, dementia, Parkinson's disease, vision problems and even to reverse the effects of aging. They also highlighted supposed benefits while suppressing known dangers.

"Given the growing evidence that ghostwriting has been used to promote hormone therapy and offer highly promoted drugs, the medical profession must take steps to ensure that prescribers renounce participation in ghostwriting, and to ensure that unscrupulous relationships between industry and academia are avoided rather than courted," she and her colleagues wrote in the PLoS Medicine, a Public Library of Science journal.

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