Medical Research Continues to Lose Integrity

Senator Charles E. Grassley has raised some serious concern over a recent article published in the Elsevier Medical Journal. The Senator has asked the publisher to investigate an article written on hormone replacement therapy, believing that it was improperly “ghostwritten” by a drug company promoting their products. The article was part of an editor’s choice section in Elsevier’s Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In an article signed by Dr. John Eden of Australia, Senator Grassley has found unethical promotions lacking scientific evidence. At the heart of the controversy is the drug company Wyeth. Mr. Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who is investigating drug company influence on doctors, contends that Wyeth commissioned the articles and had them ghostwritten by a medical writing firm. Only after the articles were conceived and under way did the firm line up doctors to put their names on them, Mr. Grassley contends.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Drug companies have been forcing their will on medical research results for decades now, and the influence of corporate profit is on the rise. By 2006, Drug companies were spending nearly twice as much on advertising and marketing as they were on the research and testing needed to ensure the safety of a new product.

Mr. Grassley’s investigation shows how results of this corporate policy can be catastrophic. A landmark federal study has linked Wyeth’s Prempro hormone product to breast cancer in women. What does the expert testimony sponsored by Wyeth say about that taxpayer funded study? Dr. Eden’s controversial article states that, “there was no definitive evidence that the [Wyeth] hormones caused breast cancer.”

It seems the Wyeth Corporation and Dr. Eden have forgotten the meaning of the Hippocratic oath.

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