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Author Topic: The corrupt business of science...
Babbler # 621

posted 17 February 2002 03:42 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
... and the bad science of business. A series of articles on corrupt science practices bred by plummeting public funding of research and lax regulation of the relation between private companies and researchers.

Scientists paid by drug firms to put their names to ghostwritten research


Scandal of scientists who take money for papers ghostwritten by drug companies

Doctors named as authors may not have seen raw data

Sarah Boseley, health editor

Thursday February 7, 2002

Scientists are accepting large sums of money from drug companies to put their names to articles endorsing new medicines that they have not written - a growing practice that some fear is putting scientific integrity in jeopardy.

Ghostwriting has become widespread in such areas of medicine as cardiology and psychiatry, where drugs play a major role in treatment. Senior doctors, inevitably very busy, have become willing to "author" papers written for them by ghostwriters paid by drug companies.

David Healey's experience with ghostwriting



Dr Healy and Dr Tranter made some changes, pointing out that studies of a similar drug called mirtazapine did not support the message Wyeth wanted to give and that other studies showed that antidepressants could make some people worse, even suicidal.

In June, when the finished manuscript arrived in the post, it had been, says Dr Healy, "significantly altered". And a sentence had been added, saying that venlafaxine "may induce full remission in a greater number of patients". Dr Healy took strong exception to this statement.

"That last sentence said that Wyeth's drug was the best thing since sliced bread," said Dr Healy. "I would never have said that because I don't think it is."

He found that the pro-Wyeth line had been inserted by the senior academic in Toronto who had helped set up the symposium for Wyeth. Dr Healy removed his name from the article.

Unhealthy Influence


Just 18 months ago, the lid was lifted on a piece of commercial espionage and covert manipulation that would not disgrace the pages of a John le Carré blockbuster. Tobacco companies had penetrated the innermost sanctums of the World Health Organisation. Philip Morris, the largest cigarette manufacturer in the world, admitted paying scientists to turn up at WHO meetings to which the company had been refused entry, but insisted nothing it had done was improper.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I can't do this" -- a scientific ghostwriter's experience


Marilynn Larkin is a self-employed writer and contributing editor to the Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in Britain. While looking for work earlier in her career she agreed to ghostwrite a scientific paper for a medical communications agency retained by a drug company. It was her first and last incursion into that world.

"First I had to sign all kinds of forms not to tell anyone I was doing this," she said. "They gave you an outline, then provided tons of references you knew you had to use.

"I discovered I didn't like this kind of work. After I sent it, I got the whole thing back from the company with a sample from another company which read like PR writing. It was just a really straight sell. I said, 'I'm sorry, I can't do this.'"

The article was destined to be published in a medical journal supplement under the name of a research scientist. Ms Larkin says there are several kinds of scientists who will agree to have articles ghostwritten. "One is the person who has been around for centuries and is like a figurehead in the field. By that time, they don't care. They will take the money or pretend they didn't know they were taking the money for that reason.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 490

posted 17 February 2002 04:18 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think an to the thousandth power is very appropriate here.

I've got a book in my possession which I still haven't cracked and keep meaning to, which details the manipulations of the pharmaceutical industry in terms of manipulating Congress and so on. It also touches on some of the fringier ends of the anti-pharmaceutial movement, which is to say that it indirectly accuses pharmaceutical companies of misdirecting research on HIV to deny an inexpensive cure that would cut into their profits.

If ever a case was to be made for government ownership of the entire pharmaceutical and drug research industry lock, stock and barrel, those Guardian articles are it.

From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 17 February 2002 08:36 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Great references, rasmus. We need archives. How do we organize virtual archives?
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 214

posted 17 February 2002 03:55 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Remember the case at, if memory serves, the Sick Kid's Hospital in Toronto, where a pediatrician signed an agreement that she'd not publicize negative results on a trial drug?

She ended up blowing the whistle, and suffering no small amount of persecution from a formerly respected department head. (All this is from memory, mind you, so I'm being very general)

A lot of issues got brought out into the light, except the issue over the ethics of the agreement she signed in the first place.

I'd have had her license for life, if I had a say in it, and any other Doctor who violates the public trust in such an egregious and dangerous manner. Although, I am tempted toward mitigation in her circumstance as she did come clean in the end. But after her? I have no sympathy.

From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2247

posted 21 February 2002 02:33 PM      Profile for crigaux     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Im not sure if this is the same thing as what tommy is talking about, but i seem to remember a toronto university researcher having her research funded by a pharmaceutical company (the folks who make viagra, if im not mistaken.. pfizer?) for some drug for children. the drug ended up being rather dangerous (read: deadly) and she wanted to report this, but the funding to the U of T apparently had strings attached, and a non-disclosure agreement or something...she ended up doing it anyways and getting in trouble, but the pharmaceutical firm backed off so they didnt look too evil ...

this kind of junk happens all the time (ok, maybe not so glaringly obvious and naughty) in privately-funded universities. monsanto (ack!) runs a research thingy at the university of manitoba, where i go to school. they pay for part of the research, the public pays the rest and supplies the researchers, and monsanto gets the results, as far as i know.

im gonna have to go with doc conway on the nationalization of drug co's. people shit bricks at the thought of a privatized health care companies, but dont blink an eye at private drug companies who supply the public system with drugs...

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: crigaux ]

From: Hanging out at | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged

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