Pharmaceuticals

Rent-a-Researcher

"Earlier this month," writes Jennifer Washburn, "Sheffield University in Britain offered $252,000 to one of its senior medical professors, Aubrey Blumsohn. According to a copy of a proposed settlement released by Blumsohn, the university promised to pay him if he would agree to leave his post and not make 'any detrimental or derogatory statements' about Sheffield or its employees. For several years, Blumsohn had been complaining of scientific misconduct.

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Giving Up the Ghostwriters

Prescription pills"Many of the articles that appear in scientific journals under the byline of prominent academics are actually written by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies." Used by doctors "to guide their care of patients," these "seemingly objective articles ... are often part of a marketing campaign." The New England Journal of Medicine recently revealed that a 2000 article on Vioxx "omitted information about heart attacks among patients taking the drug.

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Not So Tough On Drugs After All

Professor Andrew Herx-heimer, emeritus fellow at the UK Cochrane Centre, told the British Medical Journal that changes to the British drug industry's voluntary code of practice were minimal. "This is very competent window dressing but not much has changed at all," he said.

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The Drug Industry's Attention to Profit Disorder

"A few individuals in government expressing concern can't equal the marketing power of large companies," said a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency official, regarding stimulants prescribed for children with "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD). Leading ADHD researcher Dr. William Pelham says McNeil Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures the stimulant Concerta, uses "misleading" marketing campaigns and has pressured Pelham to "water down" his writing.

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The Best Science Money Can Buy

Last December, researchers involved with studying the use of antidepressants in children faced questions as federal regulators looked into evidence that the drugs increased suicide risks. The researchers tried "for months to gather all the test data," writes Barry Meier, but "could get only pieces of that information. Some drug companies refused to turn over data to the group, even though these researchers had helped come up with it. ...

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Sex on the Brain Down at Hill & Knowlton

Hill & Knowlton is hustling for Procter & Gamble's new - but as yet unapproved - testosterone patch for women with claims that it can boost sexual activity by 74 percent, Ray Moynihan reports in the British Medical Journal. The claims - unsupported by peer reviewed data - are disputed by experts.

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Merck Toots Its Own Horn

Merck's PR campaign around the Vioxx recall includes "three full-page ads in seven prominent newspapers," "several television appearances," and "testimony before Congress by the company's chief executive." But the president of a New York crisis-management firm says, "They really need some third-party endorsements

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