Wyeth paid ghostwriters to pen journal articles on hormone replacement therapy

In a practice that is proving to be sadly common, it appears that drugmaker Wyeth paid ghostwriters to prepare dozens of articles on hormone replacement therapy that were published in journals under physicians' names, according to reports appearing in The New York Times.

This practice, in which drug companies pump up their reputation by paying for journal coverage favorable to them, has been under investigation for some time by various regulatory bodies, and Sen. Chuck Grassley asked Wyeth about the practice in December.

Wyeth's public policy on the subject of such articles, adopted in 2006, specified that listed authors must get involved early in the publication process, and that any financial assistance by Wyeth, or contributions by medical writers, must be spelled out in the published text.

But that doesn't seem to have happened here. Many articles cited by The Times were review articles, which examine existing studies to look at their substance. In one case, a company was paid $25,000 to write an article, listing the author as "TBD," or to be decided. (There's no way to be more straight about its being a marketing puff piece than that.)

The articles in question were published between 1998 and 2005. Wyeth's role in paying ghostwriters was discovered by lawyers suing the company, the Times piece says.

To learn more about this controversy:
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog item

Related Article:
Medical publisher challenged by senator over ghostwriting claims

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