It just keeps coming it seems, the pharmaceutical industry has stooped to levels even I didn’t think possible. Merck was just found to have paid academic scientists to put their names on papers they didn’t write. Who wrote the papers? Company hired medical writers of course.
According to Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA’s editor-in-chief, “The manipulation is disgusting. I just didn’t realize the extent.” I think her use of the word disgusting pretty much sums up my opinion of this revelation. The article about this scandal is in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. You can read the two articles, one by Ross, Hill, Egilman, and Krumholz and the other by Psaty and Kronmal.
One JAMA report says internal company data showed in 2001 that Vioxx patients in two Alzheimer’s studies had a higher death rate than patients on dummy pills. Merck didn’t publicize that “in a timely fashion” and provided information to federal regulators that downplayed the deaths, the report said. It’s time to reign in the industry through Congressional legislation.
Lest you think that only Merck is guilty of this deception, think again. I am sure that you will see more of this cropping up in the coming months. In my opinion, this type of behavior is driven by executives of pharmaceutical companies need to impress Wall Street and fluff up their balance sheets instead of having patient’s health in mind.
Here is the result of a paper done by Choudry, et al published in JAMA about how pervasive the industry’s hooks into medicine is:
“Eighty-seven percent of authors had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry. Fifty-eight percent had received financial support to perform research and 38% had served as employees or consultants for a pharmaceutical company. On average, CPG authors interacted with 10.5 different companies. Overall, an average of 81% (95% confidence interval, 70%-92%) of authors per CPG had interactions. Similarly, all of the CPGs for 7 of the 10 diseases included in our study had at least 1 author who had some interaction. Fifty-nine percent had relationships with companies whose drugs were considered in the guideline they authored, and of these authors, 96% had relationships that predated the guideline creation process. Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated that the guideline process with which they were involved had no formal process for declaring these relationships. In published versions of the CPGs, specific declarations regarding the personal financial interactions of individual authors with the pharmaceutical industry were made in only 2 cases. Seven percent thought that their own relationships with the pharmaceutical industry influenced the recommendations and 19% thought that their coauthors’ recommendations were influenced by their relationships. “
What is truly sad is how many people have suffered health and financial wise due to the greed and immoral behavior by the pharmaceutical industry.