Thursday, June 11, 2009

Study results as told to

Bloomberg reports how Eli Lilly & Co. and other drug companies "ghostwrote" manuscripts for doctors to submit to scientific journals.
Eli Lilly & Co. officials wrote medical journal studies about the antipsychotic Zyprexa and then asked doctors to put their names on the articles, a practice called “ghostwriting,” according to unsealed company files.
Lilly also engaged in other unethical practices.
Lilly employees also compiled a guide to hiring scientists to write favorable articles, complained to journal editors when publication was delayed and submitted rejected articles to other outlets, according to documents filed in drug overpricing suits against the Indianapolis-based company, the largest manufacturer of psychiatric medicines.
Lilly was not alone.
In May 2008, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck agreed to pay $58 million to 29 states and stop ghostwriting articles to resolve claims that its advertisements for the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx hid the drug’s health risks.

...Pfizer paid $60 million to 33 states in October to settle claims it improperly marketed its Bextra and Celebrex pain relievers. New York-based Pfizer agreed to halt off-label marketing of the medicines and stop ghostwriting about them. It withdrew Bextra in April 2005. Celebrex is still on the market.

...In 1996, Wyeth hired Excerpta Medica Inc., a New Jersey- based medical communications firm, to write 10 articles promoting drugs aimed at treating obesity...
As despicable as the drug companies' behavior was, it pales in comparison to the medical shills who abetted this practice.

Universities regularly flunk and expel students who engage in academically dishonest practices, such as turning in other people's papers from paper mills and fraternity files. As the Bloomberg article indicates, universities need to look more closely at their own faculty members regarding the same practices.