It seems that there are enough physicians out there who aren’t even a tiny bit embarrassed about referring to themselves out loud as “Thought Leaders” or “Key Opinion Leaders” to keep Canada’s Dr. Sergio Sismondo busy writing about them.
I first wrote about his work in A Philosopher’s Take on Big Pharma Marketing. Focusing on what he calls the pharmaceutical industry’s “corruption of medical knowledge”, the Queen’s University professor now has a new paper in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.
In it, he warns us about physicians and academic researchers who willingly become financially enmeshed in Big Pharma’s marketing efforts:(1) Continue reading →
In November 2003, psychiatrists at the University of Minnesota used the threat of involuntary commitment to force a mentally ill young man named Dan Markingson into a profitable, industry-funded study of antipsychotic drugs. Dan, who was mentally incapable of giving informed consent to participate in this research, was recruited into the study over the objections of his mother, Mary Weiss.
For months Mary tried desperately to get him out of the clinical trials, warning the psychiatrists in writing that Dan’s condition was deteriorating and that he was in danger of killing himself.
The psychiatrists refused to listen to her.
On May 8, 2004, Dan committed suicide, and Mary Weiss lost her only child. Continue reading →
With a university degree in biology, young David landed a new job with a medical communications company. His first writing assignment was to produce scientific abstracts for studies of a newly approved antibiotic. Alas, the drug had a major weakness: it didn’t work on pneumococcus, a common bacterium. But this wasn’t something the drug’s manufacturer (David’s client) wanted doctors to know.
So David and his fellow medical writers were ordered to just avoid writing about it. Continue reading →
I had to go have a little lie-down after I read the The New York Timesstory this week about the scandalous practice of medical ghostwriting. Here’s how Danish researcher Dr. Peter Gøtzsche describes medical ghostwriting: “Ghostwriting occurs when someone makes substantial contributions to a manuscript without attribution or disclosure. It is considered bad publication practice in the medical sciences, andsome argue it is scientific misconduct. At its extreme, medical ghostwriting involves pharmaceutical companies hiring professional writers to produce papers promoting their products– but hiding those contributions and instead naming academic physicians or scientists as the authors.“
Here’s an extreme example of extreme medical ghostwriting. The New York Times and the journal Public Library of Science Medicine have outlined recent court documents revealing that ghostwriters paid by drug giant Wyeth Pharmaceuticals played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers published in medical journals that backed the use of hormone replacement therapy in women. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth directly, as sales of its HRT drugs Premarin and Prempro soared to nearly $2 billion by 2001. Continue reading →