Ghost Writers Pushed Hormone Therapy in Medical Journals

I know. What a shocker. Newly revealed court documents show Wyeth pharmaceuticals paid a “medical communications” company to write papers supporting its hormone drug therapy.

The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.

But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.

The ghostwritten papers were typically review articles, in which an author weighs a large body of medical research and offers a bottom-line judgment about how to treat a particular ailment. The articles appeared in 18 medical journals, including The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology.

Are you really that surprised? Honestly, I’ve always figured this was going on. Reminds me of all the flap surrounding Dr. Robert Jarvik—pioneer of the artificial heart—hocking Lipitor pills.

Via The New York Times.

Image credit: Dirty Bunny

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Alicia - August 7, 2009 8:22 AM

Thanks for passing this on. I am speechless. Do you know if this is illegal or not? I would hope there is a consequence to this deplorable action.

Manda - August 7, 2009 3:24 PM

Not surprised one bit. Anyone else read the book Our Daily Meds? Excellent book, details how this exact process takes place for pretty much every condition that Pharma has a med to treat. As a healthcare provider I've long seen this with drug reps and CE classes that are really just drug promotions. However, I was truly shocked to learn the extent to which it goes - right down to the peer-reviewed medical journals I had previously relied upon as objective.

Sara - August 7, 2009 10:43 PM

Not surprised. Been hearing this for a while now. To know what a study says it is necessary to read the study, not rely on commentary which is often biased or twists results. See "Overdosed America".

Teresa - August 8, 2009 10:28 PM

And Oprah isn't doing women any favors by continuing to push "bio-identical" hormone therapy. The use of any hormones are defitely not good for women... to which as a breast cancer survior I can attest. Another good title
"The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women"
Check it out at Amazon....

The estrogen push has been around for a lot longer than you know....centuries.

Shirley - January 12, 2010 12:03 PM

I loved your article – it was some great information. I think you and your readers might be interested in another article I found, about Medical and Dry Eyes.

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