This point has not been discussed with marketing and is not definitive!

by Henry Farrell on December 15, 2005

Scott Lemieux’s “Tech Central Journal of Medicine”: excerpts a WSJ article that uncovers some pretty nasty practices in medical academic publishing.

bq. In 2001, the American Journal of Kidney Diseases published an article that touted the use of synthetic vitamin D. Its author was listed as Alex J. Brown, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis. But recently, that same article was featured as a work sample by a different person: Michael Anello, a free-lance medical writer, who posted a summary of it on his Web site. Mr. Anello says he was hired to write the article by a communications firm working for Abbott Laboratories, which makes a version of the vitamin D product. Dr. Brown agrees he got help in writing but says he redid part of the draft. It’s an example of an open secret in medicine: Many of the articles that appear in scientific journals under the by-lines of prominent academics are actually written by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies. These seemingly objective articles, which doctors around the world use to guide their care of patients, are often part of a marketing campaign by companies to promote a product or play up the condition it treats.

bq. …

bq. Susanna Dodgson, who holds a doctorate in physiology, says she was hired in 2002 by Excerpta Medica, the Elsevier medical-communications firm, to write an article about J&J’s anemia drug Eprex. A J&J unit had sponsored a study measuring whether Eprex patients could do well taking the drug only once a week. The company was facing competition from a rival drug sold by Amgen Inc. that could be given once a week or less. Dr. Dodgson says she was given an instruction sheet directing her to emphasize the “main message of the study”… That report said the study’s goal “could not be reached.” Both the instruction sheet and the report were viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The higher figure Dr. Dodgson was asked to highlight used a broader definition of success and excluded patients who dropped out of the trial or didn’t adhere to all its rules. The instructions noted that some patients on large doses didn’t seem to do well with the once-weekly administration but warned that this point “has not been discussed with marketing and is not definitive!”

Meanwhile, the backers of the real Tech Central Station may have been involved in the New Hampshire “phone-jamming scandal”:

bq. McGee’s testimony suggested that the DCI Group, a powerful public relations firm which publishes the Tech Central Station website and is closely connected to the Republican party, was involved through lawyer and New Hampshire native Bruce McCabe. He also said he had talked to Darrell Henry of the American Gas Association, who said that he would keep the phone jamming going after it was officially called off.



Matt Weiner 12.15.05 at 10:18 pm

Bush’s New England campaign chairman guilty on two counts in phone-jamming scandal.


Jim S 12.15.05 at 10:26 pm

Is there any greater oxymoron in the U.S. in 2005 than honest Republican official?


Peter 12.15.05 at 11:32 pm

Ah, well, if you’d read Trust Us, We’re Experts, you’d have come across this marketing masquerading as science before.


Andrew 12.16.05 at 2:52 am

Gives ya that nice warm, fuzzy deep down ‘olm feelin doesnt it?


abb1 12.16.05 at 3:19 am

…“has not been discussed with marketing and is not definitive!”…



Steve LaBonne 12.16.05 at 8:33 am

Do a Goggle News search on Cleveland Clinic and read about the conflict-of-interest fun and games going on there for an example of how things work nowadays. Truly the medical-industrial complex is becoming one of the most noxious forces in US society.


Steve LaBonne 12.16.05 at 8:34 am

Er, that would be GOOGLE news, Sorry.


Henry 12.16.05 at 9:56 am

My eyes! The Googles do nothing!

(sorry – someone had to say it)


revere 12.16.05 at 9:27 pm

This issue has been discussed a number of time on Effect Measure and on Health Care Renewal. See these blogs for many more “illuminating” examples of medical ghostwriting.

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