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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14884

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Wilson D.
Publisher opens inquiry into article on Wyeth drug
The International Herald Tribune 2008 Dec 20

Full text:

The medical publisher Elsevier said Friday that it would investigate a U.S. senator’s recent allegation that one of its journals published an article on hormone replacement therapy that was improperly ghostwritten by a drug company promoting the product.

The senator, Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, had raised questions about the May 2003 “Editors’ Choice” article in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published by Elsevier, which is part of the Dutch-British publishing giant Reed Elsevier.

The article, signed by Dr. John Eden, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, was among articles Grassley has cited that were favorable to drugs made by the pharmaceutical company Wyeth.

Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who is investigating drug companies’ 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, Grassley contends.

“The charges made by Senator Grassley’s office with regard to the article published in 2003 by Dr. Eden are a significant concern to The Journal and Elsevier,” Glen Campbell, senior vice president for Elsevier’s U.S. Health Sciences Journals unit, said in a statement. “As with any charge of misconduct or inappropriate publishing acts, The Journal has launched its own investigation into the claims of ghostwriting and undisclosed financial support.”

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The journal article, published more than a year after a landmark U.S. government study linked Prempro, a Wyeth hormone product, to breast cancer in women, said there was “no definitive evidence” the hormones caused breast cancer.

Eden’s article did not mention any involvement by Wyeth or DesignWrite, the medical writing company hired by Wyeth. He acknowledged the contributions of two people for “editorial assistance” but did not disclose that they worked for DesignWrite. The standard industry guidelines for medical journals require the authors to identify all significant contributors.

Eden said in an interview by e-mail that he stood by the article’s contents but declined to elaborate. “I cannot comment as these matters are before the Senate,” he said. “I am also aware of ongoing lawsuits around these matters.”

In a statement Friday, Wyeth said the academic authors had not been paid by Wyeth and had “substantive editorial control” of the articles.

Grassley said in a statement that he appreciated the publishing company’s response and would continue his own investigation.


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