Big Pharma and Ghostwriting

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

The practice of phamaceutical companies ghostwriting articles about their drugs has been questioned by doctors and patients for many years. A recent article published yesterday in the Public Library of Science by Adriane Fugh-Berman examines how this pratice can manipulate everyones thinking.

The paper, which can be read here, dicusses one instance where the pharmaceutical company Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, ghostwrote articles about their Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Fugh-Berman says the articles they ghostwritten articles were clandestine attempts to mitigate the percieved risk of HRT with breast cancer, to promote off label (and unproven) use of the drug for problems like dementia, wrinkles, and Parkinson’s disease, and even to compare the benefits of it’s drug over a competitors’.

1500 documents revealed in the HRT litigation were among those analyzed. Between 1997 and 2003 Wyeth hired a firm named DesignWrite to generate some 50 peer reviewed articles about their HRT drugs, Premerin and Prempro. The process of how the articles are written is partially revealed in an internal email exposed by the litigation. Karen Mittleman, a DesignWrite employee wrote, “The beauty of this process is we become your postdocs. We provide you with an outline that you review and suggest changes to. We then develop a draft from the final outline. You have complete editorial control of the paper, but we provide you with the materials to review/critique.”

Contact Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP if you have been injured by a drug’s side effects for a free consultation.

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