The drug maker Merck drafted dozens of research studies for a best-selling drug, then lined up prestigious doctors to put their names on the reports before publication, according to an article to be published Wednesday in a leading medical journal.
The article, based on documents unearthed in lawsuits over the pain drug Vioxx, provides a rare, detailed look in the industry practice of ghostwriting medical research studies that are then published in academic journals.
The article cited one draft of a Vioxx research study that was still in want of a big-name researcher, identifying the lead writer only as “External author?”
Here’s what Merck had to say…
Merck acknowledged Tuesday that it sometimes hired outside medical writers to draft research reports before handing them over to the doctors whose names eventually appear on the publication. But the company disputed the article’s conclusion that the authors do little of the actual research or analysis.
The final work is the product of the doctor and “accurately reflects his or her opinion,” said a Merck lawyer, James Fitzpatrick.
Obviously, this is pretty shameful, and it seems quite a bit like lobbyists writing legislation…which happens ALL the time and is an accepted practice in Washington. Still, the drug thing is different because people can die quickly if the research is wrong.
In any event, gotta love that free market, eh?