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Originally published October 3 2008

Medical Study Ghostwriting Common Throughout Drug Industry

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Evidence continues to emerge that drug companies commonly conceal their own influence over research on their products by paying respected academics to lend their name as authors of those studies.

Due to a lawsuit over the injuries caused by Merck's painkiller Vioxx, the company has been forced to unseal documents over its initial research on the drug. These documents have revealed that the company conducted studies on Vioxx, paid researchers to allow their names to be put down as authors of those studies, and did not disclose these practices to the FDA or to medical journals that published the studies.

According to Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) editor Catherine D. DeAngelis, drug companies have frequently asked her to let her name be used as the author of studies she had not been involved in. Sometimes they explicitly told her that very little work would be required, as a professional writing firm would produce the first draft.

In an editorial in JAMA, DeAngelis and deputy editor Phil. B. Fontanarosa decry this practice as a sign that the health profession has been "inundated with profound influence from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries."

Other researchers have reported being approached by public relations firms in the employ of drug companies for such purposes. High blood pressure expert Jean Sealey said that a consulting firm asked her to be the author on a study to be presented at a conference of the American Society for Hypertension. The conference, Sealey noted, was only a week away and she had never even heard to the drug that had been tested.

According to Jerome Kassirer, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, this practice is particularly dangerous when researchers are persuaded to put their names on reviews conducted of prior research, not knowing if the firms that authored the paper excluded certain prior studies from consideration.

"We've got to stop this," DeAngelis said. "People are being hurt. We've given away our profession."

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