Senator investigates Wyeth over ghostwritten research articles

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Ghostwriting has plagued the pharmaceutical sector in the pastPharmaceutical company Wyeth paid for favorable medical journal articles to be written about its hormone therapy products, according to claims by a U.S. senator.

In a letter to Wyeth, Senator Charles Grassley questioned whether the company had hired medical communications company DesignWrite to create materials about its products and then find scientists who would sign on as authors.

Grassley suggested that if such articles are published – and the amount of involvement the authors had in the articles is not made clear – the results could harm patients, doctors and taxpayers alike.

"Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, that can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that may not work and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling," he wrote.

Wyeth is currently dealing with around 8,700 legal claims from women who took their hormone replacement products, including Prempro.

Sales of the drug plummeted after a 2002 study, known as the Women’s Health Initiative, began linking hormone therapy with breast cancer.

The World Association of Medical Editors told the New York Times that not mentioning the role of a ghostwriter in medical literature is "dishonest and unacceptable."
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