Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 6, 2009


NY Times - Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.

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.


Anonymous Mairead said...

Pharm companies are corporations. Corporations would be diagnosed as psychopaths, if they were natural humans. Or at least if they were natural humans lacking wealth and power, since somehow those attributes seem to prevent a number of undesired diagnoses in humans.

So it should surprise no one (appall, yes, surprise, no) when corporations and their minions behave badly.

August 6, 2009 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother had a radical double mastectomy 2 years ago because she was on permarin for 15 years and developed invasive breast cancer. My mother is in her 80s and wouldn't ever raise a ruckus, but I hope the many women younger than her harmed by HRT will take these Pharma frauds to the cleaners.

August 6, 2009 8:59 PM  

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