Tag Archives: wyeth

Did PLoS suffer from COI in ghostwriting article?

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Remember that examination of Wyeth (now Pfizer)’s ghostwriting practices that ran in PLoS Medicine a few weeks back? Well, Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman reports that things got a fair bit weirder, thanks to an accusation from Wyeth/Pfizer that the article’s author suffered from her own undisclosed conflict of interest. The article mentions author Adriane Fugh-Berman was a paid expert witness in the trial against Wyeth through which the documents were exposed, but never discloses that she’s still engaged as such.

Silverman got in touch with Fugh-Berman, who said she would clarify her status.

Things get a bit muddier when company representatives allege that the journal was intentionally using the article fodder for an anti-Pfizer lawsuit. Silverman does a good job of explaining the whole situation.

Related: Say what? Pfizer calls PLoS out on conflict of interest

How the pharma research ‘sausage’ is made

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Reporting on Health’s William Heisel has posted the latest installment in his series highlighting the spiciest entries in the Drug Industry Document Archive, this time focusing on the cold mechanics of the drug industry’s research paper assembly line, and its intimate relationship with pharmaceutical marketing.

pills
Photo by somegeekintn via Flickr.

Again, Heisel focuses on the deposition of Wyeth ghostwriter Karen Mittleman and related documents and memorandums. He lists the names of some key ghostwriters to look out for, then details a number of specific cases when production and marketing concerns clearly outweighed science, at least as far as the pharmaceutical manufacturers were concerned.

Wyeth paid university for ghostwritten articles

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

John Fauber and Meg Kissinger of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that Wyeth paid the University of Wisconsin to sponsor “ghostwritten medical education articles that downplayed the risks” of female hormone therapy – one of that company’s most notorious missteps.

Amid mounting concern regarding their safety and shortly before the discovery that Wyeth’s progestin and estrogen products were considered dangerous enough to bring a massive clinical trial screeching to a halt, five ghostwritten articles, paid for by Wyeth, were used in University of Wisconsin continuing medical education materials which promoted the benefits and downplayed the risks of the treatments.

The Wyeth company line is that the articles weren’t bad or misrepresented science, and that the titular authors of the pieces were given “substantial editorial control” over the “scientifically accurate content.”

William Heisel focused on DesignWrite (the ghostwriters behind Wyeth’s pieces) and suggested that reporters check out their own local institutions and ask questions about where money is coming from, ask if the big names of local scientists are helping to hide their dubious connections and to actively question the impartiality of the science itself.

Heisel also put together an entertaining piece regarding just how tickled some researchers are to put their name on ghostwritten work.

Wyeth-funded course promoted hormone therapy

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

John Fauber and Susanne Rust of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel continue the paper’s examination of the influence that drug companies and device manufacturers have on patient care with a story about a University of Wisconsin-Madison course funded entirely by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

The course promoted hormone therapy and started just months after a clinical trial was ended early because researchers found that women who took hormone therapy drugs were at increased risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots.

For six years, “thousands of doctors from around the country took the online course that was funded entirely by a $12 million grant from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which makes the hormone therapy drugs used in the study, Prempro and Premarin.”

The paper reports that “Even after the course was no longer available, the Web site and course material remained on the Internet, accessible to consumers and doctors. The university dropped the site Jan. 15, one day after the Journal Sentinel began questioning UW officials about the propriety of the program.”