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Medical Papers By Ghostwriters Pushed Hormone Therapy

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the just-keep-a-positive-attitude dept.

Medicine 289

krou writes "The New York Times reports on newly released court documents that show how pharmaceutical company Wyeth paid a medical communications firm to use ghost writers in drafting and publishing 26 papers between 1998 and 2005 backing the usage of hormone replacement therapy in women. The articles appeared in 18 journals, such as The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology. The papers 'emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia,' and the apparent 'medical consensus benefited Wyeth ... as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.' The apparent consensus crumbled after a federal study in 2002 'found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.'"

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Here come the Lawyers (2, Insightful)

BigGar' (411008) | about 5 years ago | (#28979441)

Well at least the ones that don't stroke out over the nearly endless possibilities...

Re:Here come the Lawyers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979475)

Good! This is one of those cases where the pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable over and above the slap on the wrist the FDA will give them - if that.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28979639)

Agreed. I think say, fining them two hundred times their gross worth and imprisoning their board of directors and corporate officers until every penny has been paid off ought to do the trick.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (4, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 5 years ago | (#28979907)

No, no , no, no. You got it all wrong. They should be fined $80,000 for each $1 of product they sold, just like the RIAA got.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (3, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | about 5 years ago | (#28979951)

Destroying the company wouldn't be helpful. I think a better solution would be to fine the board of directors (and anyone else in on this) for 100% of the money they've ever made while working there + all of their shares in the company + jail time.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28980063)

I respectfully disagree; I think corporate death penalty is the appropriate route to go.

All assets of the company are seized by the government, all patents are made public domain, liquid assets (cash and similar instruments) are distributed amongst the victims, the rest is auctioned off to pay for court costs.

Then, the former shareholders of the company can sue the board of directors and anybody else who no longer has corporate immunity, for causing all of their investment to go away because the company committed crimes against humanity.

This would put every single company on notice: You exist to serve the people; you are allowed to eck out a profit insofar that you do not commit crimes against us. Companies are only people on paper, and I have no compunctions about putting them to death for crimes against the people they are supposed to serve.

What... would be the point? (5, Interesting)

Lead Butthead (321013) | about 5 years ago | (#28980119)

Good! This is one of those cases where the pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable over and above the slap on the wrist the FDA will give them - if that.

Except that nobody is really being held accountable, unless you're talking about SERIOUS jail time for the officers and forfeiture of profit + interest (at credit card rate no less.) Let's be honest here, the worse that can be expected is that FDA will slap some fine on the companies, and the companies will just happily pass the cost onto its paying customers (you and I.) There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979477)

Rob Malda's asshole is so blown out that it looks like a roast beef sandwich with the beef falling out of the bread.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979513)

Why shouldn't they be sued? They willfully defrauded people into buying their products by lying to them about the risks. Isn't this something they should have to pay retribution to their customers for?

Re:Here come the Lawyers (3, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#28979625)

I'm curious to know if these journals are real respected peer reviewed publications. If so, they should be reviewing their peer review policies and/or looking at whether or not they were defrauded by the authors.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (2, Informative)

Walter White (1573805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979883)

I'm curious to know if these journals are real respected peer reviewed publications.

It turns out that a lot of the studies being reported in the peer reviewed medical journals are funded by pharmaceutical companies. The studies that don't favor their products are simply not published.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (3, Informative)

Bragador (1036480) | about 5 years ago | (#28979927)

A peer reviewed journal doesn't tell you that the article has real unfalsified results. The job of the journal is to see if the methodology is serious. So, if you fake your results and have a very well thought out methodology, you can be published. The burden of double checking the results is given to the readers, other scientists who would like to disprove the claims. That costs money and time so most people don't do it. They prefer to publish new discoveries instead.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#28980165)

That's true, but journals' reputations still do depend on a perception that the studies they publish are generally high-quality and honest. So I could see a case for these journals suing Wyeth for the damage to their reputations that these papers have caused.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (2, Informative)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | about 5 years ago | (#28980051)

I'm curious to know if these journals are real respected peer reviewed publications.

You betcha. From the web site of one of them:

With a 2008 impact factor of 3.453 (previously 2.917 or an 18% increase), the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology [AJOG] (The Gray Journal) is now ranked 7th of 61 journals in the Obstetrics & Gynecology category, according to the latest Journal Citation Reports(r) 2008, published by Thomson Reuters.

from [AJOG [ajog.org] ]

Re:Here come the Lawyers (1)

basementman (1475159) | about 5 years ago | (#28979821)

In the US you can sue just about anyone for just about anything. It's just a question of whether or not you will win.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (5, Insightful)

ChefInnocent (667809) | about 5 years ago | (#28979941)

I think suing isn't going far enough. I think the person/team behind this and the board of directors should be criminally prosecuted. To fabricate data in pursuit of a few extra dollars while willfully allowing people to die because of the fabrication is wrong on a very fundamental level.

I agree. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28980041)

Also a Corporate death sentence, forced liquidation with the proceeds going to the government.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28979649)

Actually, lawyers are the ones who brought the truth to light in the first place:

The documents on ghostwriting were uncovered by lawyers suing Wyeth and were made public after a request in court from PLoS Medicine, a medical journal from the Public Library of Science, and The New York Times.

I do hope they win money from Wyeth. Heck, I don't even mind Wyeth pushing their agenda in the literature, if the science is good it should stand on its own. But being evasive and publishing with a hidden financial agenda is not cool, especially when lives are at stake.

Re:Here come the Lawyers (1)

BigGar' (411008) | about 5 years ago | (#28979825)

Here I try to somewhat amusing while pointing out the obvious and I get modded a Troll; sigh.
And yes, I agree they should be sued, the company should be sued, the people who approved this should be sued and held criminally liable in my opinion. But try and point out the lawyers feeding frenzy is somehow off-base ....

Unfortunately... (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | about 5 years ago | (#28979451)

TFA is unreachable...

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | about 5 years ago | (#28979505)

apparently it's ghost-hosted as well...

Re:Unfortunately... (3, Informative)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | about 5 years ago | (#28979761)

Here are few links:
Philadelphia Inquirer [philly.com] ,
UPI [upi.com] (Two quotes: "Ghostwriters paid by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Wyeth worked on dozens of articles published in medical journals under doctors' names, court documents indicate." and "A Wyeth spokesman said the ghostwritten articles were scientifically sound and subject to peer review by the journals that published them.")
NYT [nytimes.com]

Who ya gonna call? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979457)

When there's something weird
In your study results
Who you gonna call?
Ghostwriters!

Re:Who ya gonna call? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979935)

I'm gonna call yo mama. Yo mama so big she lives in two different time zones.
But it's not her fault, she had a cold and went to the doctor and he told her she had to take hormones.
"Hormones?!" she freaked.
"Why, yeth," lisped the doc, so she went and got some Wyeth hormones.

Yeah, I know, it's not that funny, but in my defense, I've been taking Wyeth hormones too because anything that's good for yo mama is good for you too.

Wyeth isn't alone (4, Insightful)

Lurker2288 (995635) | about 5 years ago | (#28979465)

Wyeth may have gotten caught, but don't kid yourself that every major pharma company isn't doing the exact same thing.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 5 years ago | (#28979553)

I read that they, as a whole, stopped giving free notepads and clocks and pens and ice cream and subs to doctors at hospitals in person cuz it was costing too much. Geeeee, I wonder what they re-routed the money towards! I doubt they just completely cut out that form of marketing and didn't replace it. Contracted astroturfing apparently had better results so they dumped the pens and hired more writers. That's my theory at least.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

anglico (1232406) | about 5 years ago | (#28980049)

Well I could be wrong but we were told that there was a law passed about the pharmaceutical reps giving out pens and other trinkets. They (Lawmakers) somehow felt that this was influencing the doctors decisions in what they prescribed. I've personally NEVER seen/heard a doctor say they prescribe a certain med because of the gifts they got, nor have they just glossed over the results of their patient's complaints about said medications. I have been to some of the lunches here at the clinic and heard the doctors say "well we have been getting complaints of and what is doing to correct this?"

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (3, Informative)

drunken_boxer777 (985820) | about 5 years ago | (#28980095)

It's not that the notepads and pens they handed out to doctors cost too much, it's that the trade group representing drug companies voluntarily agreed to stop the practice. [nytimes.com]

And not only has ghostwriting been around forever, but the drug companies have long hired well-respected doctors as consultants (at high rates), or paid for them to give lectures (again, at high rates). These well-respected doctors (called 'Key Opinion Leaders') have considerable influence within their specialty.

Disclosure: I arrange for doctors to work as consultants for drug companies.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 5 years ago | (#28980219)

Disclosure: I arrange for doctors to work as consultants for drug companies.

Would you like your execution to be by quartering, or by lions? Because that's the mood of this thread right now.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#28980131)

I read that they, as a whole, stopped giving free notepads and clocks and pens and ice cream and subs to doctors at hospitals in person cuz it was costing too much. Geeeee, I wonder what they re-routed the money towards! I doubt they just completely cut out that form of marketing and didn't replace it. Contracted astroturfing apparently had better results so they dumped the pens and hired more writers. That's my theory at least.

No, the reason they dropped the pens / pencils / paper AND the cruises to the Bahamas AND the free golf AND the fancy dinners wasn't cost. The costs were cheap compared to the benefits they wrought. They stopped them because of the noise and bad press (and the belated 'ethics' whitepaper by the AMA and other trade groups).

The ghost writing and the funding of spurious research is / was one step removed from this in the public's eye. Now the heat is one here and big Pharma will paper over this issue and continue some other way of pushing their agenda. Look to lobbying for the next big push. If you take away an individual doctor's role in deciding which drug or treatment to prescribe and bump it up to a committee or better yet, a legislator, then you can pay a K Street firm a couple of times per year and not worry about having an army of drug reps running around.

Big Pharma has it's strategy mapped out for any possible occasion. They're smart, cunning and have been playing this game for a long time. Resistance is futile....

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979655)

This is precisely why in science, real science, we have the scientific method which requires that experiments/studies etc. be repeatable. All it would take is for these fraudulent claims to be tested and it is over for the fools who tried to usurp the system.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (4, Insightful)

Nightspirit (846159) | about 5 years ago | (#28979753)

Unless the people retesting are the same ones who submitted it in the first place (either via ghost writers, sham corporations, etc). Then it becomes like artificial sweeteners, where you have a mountain of evidence stating that it is safe (from the corporations, or people funded by the industry) and some research stating that it isn't safe, and the end result is people are confused and no one knows what to really believe.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979833)

"Unless the people retesting are the same ones who submitted it in the first place "
then it isn't the scientific method. It needs to be tested by other groups as well.
Obviously the same person redoing a test and saying it passed as very limited value.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 5 years ago | (#28980073)

duh, but how does anyone know whether it has been double checked by an outside group or not?

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28980077)

This is precisely why in science, real science, we have the scientific method which requires that experiments/studies etc. be repeatable. All it would take is for these fraudulent claims to be tested and it is over for the fools who tried to usurp the system.

Well on the one hand, not all science is physics. It can be very difficult and expensive to conduct a medical study, and repeatability is to some extent hampered by a thousand uncontrolled variables. Grams and electron volts don't vary, but people (and all biological systems) do and so even if you're picking a proper sample population that is statistically meaningful, it is nevertheless a different population than was used in the other study. Not to say that repeatability is impossible, or that a valid study's results should be completely at odds with a repeat of the study. Just that it is really not so easy as repeating an experiment and getting the exact same answer. So don't be too surprised that nobody's first reaction to seeing the study in a journal was "We need to duplicate these results right now!"

On the other hand, it was a different study that helped show that the original study was bad.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 5 years ago | (#28980179)

It might not be fair, but that doesn't change the fact that physics isn't a better, more scientific science.

Re:Wyeth isn't alone (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 5 years ago | (#28980175)

This is precisely why in science, real science, we have the scientific method which requires that experiments/studies etc. be repeatable. All it would take is for these fraudulent claims to be tested and it is over for the fools who tried to usurp the system.

The question is, who's going to do the repeat? If an experiment is prohibitively expensive to recreate it offers a natural cover for fraud. Not that scientific method isn't a Good Thing. But one can't just utter it as an incantation against the demons of deceit.

surprised? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979473)

Socialize medicine now - disincentivize pharmaceutical company abuse.

Investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979491)

Well you know companys have to protect their research investment at any cost. Who cares about people? They don't!

"Scientific Consensus" (-1, Flamebait)

jcnnghm (538570) | about 5 years ago | (#28979499)

Sounds kind of like global warming, where the people screaming most loudly about scientific consensus are also the ones that stand to benefit the most greatly financially. Just look at Al Gore and his carbon trading investments. It all screams conflict of interest.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979557)

Sounds kind of like global warming, where the people screaming most loudly about scientific consensus are also the ones that stand to benefit the most greatly financially.

Or the ones who scream that there isn't are almost always getting the funding for their research from oil companies.

Just look at Al Gore and his carbon trading investments.

What a fucking red herring. What Al Gore and other non-scientists do or don't do have no bearing on the veracity of the research done by the actual climate scientists.

It all screams conflict of interest.

But having your funding come from someone like Exxon isn't?

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979627)

Oh and that doesn't even address such things like that famous list that is touted around of alleged scientists that supposedly signed some document against the scientific consensus that not only didn't even verify the identity or credentials of the supposed signers, but that it also falsely listed people who don't even agree with the document.

On April 29, 2008, environmental journalist Richard Littlemore revealed that a list of "500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares"[26] distributed by the Heartland Institute included at least 45 scientists who neither knew of their inclusion as "coauthors" of the article, nor agreed with its contents.[27] Many of the scientists asked the Heartland Institute to remove their names from the list.

From here [wikipedia.org] .

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | about 5 years ago | (#28979865)

On April 29, 2008, environmental journalist Richard Littlemore revealed that a list of "500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares"[26] distributed by the Heartland Institute included at least 45 scientists who neither knew of their inclusion as "coauthors" of the article, nor agreed with its contents.[27] Many of the scientists asked the Heartland Institute to remove their names from the list.

Holy shit--I'd be doing a lot more than politely asking to have my name removed from the list. Isn't that actionable, in a "you libelous bastards!" kind of way?

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979681)

I agree with your points however, be careful not to make the claim that just because big oil funds research means it is biased somehow makes federally funded research unbiased. Especially during the Bush years...

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979799)

I agree with your points however, be careful not to make the claim that just because big oil funds research means it is biased somehow makes federally funded research unbiased.

I don't make such a claim, but one has to be somewhat suspicious that it almost never fails that a detractor has a monetary tie to a Big Oil company. I'm sorry, but that's far more of a conflict of interest than someone getting their money from NSF.

Especially during the Bush years...

Except Bush was a denier and yet the people doing research with federal funds held the opposite view of him.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 5 years ago | (#28979689)

Sounds kind of like global warming, where the people screaming most loudly about scientific consensus are also the ones that stand to benefit the most greatly financially.

Or the ones who scream that there isn't are almost always getting the funding for their research from oil companies.

Or the ones who scream that there is and that there isn't scientific consensus, always getting their funding from the Society for the Advancement of Silly Self-contradiction.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#28979749)

Or the ones who scream that there isn't are almost always getting the funding for their research from oil companies.

What Al Gore and other non-scientists do or don't do have no bearing on the veracity of the research done by the actual climate scientists.

So you admit that climate scientists being paid by oil companies has no bearing on the veracity of their research? Just checking. Actually most climate scientists that I talk to openly tell me that no one has any freaking clue as to what is going on with global warming, whether it's man made or not. Everyone else is speculating or is in someone's wallet.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979869)

So you admit that climate scientists being paid by oil companies has no bearing on the veracity of their research?

No because that is completely different. Al Gore isn't a climate scientist an doesn't do any published research so what he says or does has no bearing on anything at all. On the other hand, the financial dealings of an actual scientist who is publishing on the subject will have a bearing on the veracity of their research.

Actually most climate scientists that I talk to openly tell me that no one has any freaking clue as to what is going on with global warming, whether it's man made or not.

Well then you must not know many, because many hundreds to thousands of them do have a clue what is going on and whether or not man has a hand in it.

Everyone else is speculating or is in someone's wallet.

There is no speculation. To try to claim that us dumping billions of tons of extra C02 in the atmosphere and claim it has no bearing on how much heat is retained by the atmosphere is to ignore physics.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979559)

This isn't consensus.
It's people signing of on biased meta-studies.

No, the people screaming the loudest don't have the most to gain from global warming.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979565)

You could say the opposing side has a lot to gain from AGW not being true. After all, the cost of reducing carbon emissions is significant to those who produce the most CO2. The difference between AGW and this nonsense is that *climatologists would have to be wrong [climate models and ice cores etc.] *physicists would have to be wrong [infared absorbsion spectrum of CO2] etc. In short, there would need to be a massive conspiracy of thousands of scientists all in on it.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28979673)

It's odd that the anti-climate change crowd will essentially assert that climatologists are part of some even cabal to destroy the economy, and yet essentially are siding with a group of multinational corporations whose vested interest is in keeping everyone vomiting as much CO2 into the atmosphere for as long as possible.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979937)

I know... If you are ethically opposed to governmental action and proposed AGW solutions usually require fairly heavy control over production to some extent it isn't hard to see why someone like that would tend to support private industry rather than any evidence pointing toward government action.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#28979791)

Few people doubt that global warming is happening anymore. The new battle ground is whether or not we're causing it and whether or not the consequences are really as dire as they want us to believe.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#28979817)

The new battle ground is whether or not we're causing it and whether or not the consequences are really as dire as they want us to believe.

We know by simple physics that CO2 in the atmosphere causes a planet to retain more heat than it otherwise would. We also know that humans have been dumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere beyond what the normal carbon cycle can handle. It's a pretty simple to see that all that extra CO2 that is overwhelming the carbon cycle must be contributing to an increased retention of heat.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979971)

I think the only real debate left is how to reduce carbon emissions/reduce effects of AGW as cheaply as possible. Most of the left tends to support heavy government involvement and the right tends to support either letting the market adapt to the change or harnessing market forces to develop the needed advances to reduce CO2. I have come to be on the side that both accepts the existence of AGW and the likely necessity of using market forces as much as possible to solve the problem.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28980121)

But it is not easy to determine if the amounts of Co2 are actually having the claimed effects verses other sources. One of the biggest challenges is that so far, none of the models using the Co2 as a source has been able to come close to being accurate to date. There is no evidence of Co2 overwhelming the carbon cycle and to put your billions of tons into perspective, the increases that are claiming to be the problem are less then 1 percent of the total green house gasses in the atmosphere and less then .001 percent of the total contents of the atmosphere.

Are you really convinced that this little amount of gas is going to cause irreparable damage? If so, then why does all the solutions to do not address the Carbon directly and instead, attempt to extort money from companies and people and will make no difference in a reduction because they are by design intended to prop up third world countries (Kyoto) and it is known that if third world citizens reach first world lifestyles, their carbon usage increases 8 fold.

Now you seem to be one of those brain washed buffoons, so tell me why and how this is so sound when we can't even get the temp data to study it for irregularities and manipulated data which could coincide with political and monetary goals of some.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Jamie Lokier (104820) | about 5 years ago | (#28980213)

Personally I side with the "climate change is real, important and humankind affects it" camp.
But let me respond for a moment just to your assertions:

1. Sure, increased heat retention. What matters is how much: significant or insignificant.

        When I fart it increases the greenhouse effect due to the methane I emit.
        But my fart is obviously insignificant.

        One can't conclude that billions of tons of CO2 emission causes a significant effect without more detailed analysis, including measurements, modelling and understanding whether those measurement results are caused by the CO2 or something else.

2. Climate is way, way more complex than that. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to changes in the ocean currents, ocean gas exchange with the atmosphere, atmospheric currents, photon energy distribution, atmosphere and ocean chemistry, reflectivity due to biosphere changes, reflectivity due to ocean currents churning material and affecting ocean life, changes in just about everything to some degree. Many of those things have the potential to cause the Earth to lose heat.

      One may naively think extra CO2 emission leads to increased heat retention. Heck, it probably does, but that does not constitute science.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979921)

It's a media battle ground, the science says yes we are causing it, and yes it will be disastrous.

COuld new evidence come in to show it's not man made? of course, but so far it has stood up to all other hypothesis.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#28979983)

I'm still waiting for them to come up with something that's actually disastrous. Admittedly, my view of what disastrous is probably starkly differs from most people. I don't see species extinction as a problem (untold numbers of species have gone extinct in the history of our planet), ice ages come and go, and populations wax and wane (even human populations) for various reasons. Where is the real disaster?

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28980161)

Why is it ok for one entity to cause damage to the evironment of someone else no matter how severe with few consequences? If this did destroy a species for example and that species was used by another individual for income, wouldn't that be a violation of property rights at the least? how about rising sea levels eroding land away- also property destruction. how do you propose taking that damage into account?

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#28980215)

Where is the real disaster?

Wars are often fought over resources. If the climate changes considerably, then the geographic distributions of a number of important things also gets changed - fresh water and arable land for starters. If lowland Asia and the Indian subcontinent get flooded, a couple of billion people are going to want to move. The several billion people located on higher ground just might not take kindly to their new neighbors.

Look how bonkers the world went when a couple of banks made some bad decisions.... Now, think of what happens when the physical world rapidly changes.

It's likely not going to be very pretty. Will the US and Europe be heavily affected? Perhaps not directly (depending on exactly what the climate does) but we're awfully interconnected these days.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28980221)

Admittedly, my view of what disastrous is probably starkly differs from most people. I don't see species extinction as a problem (untold numbers of species have gone extinct in the history of our planet), ice ages come and go, populations wax and wane (even human populations) for various reasons. Where is the real disaster?

Well gee if you don't see any problem with the human population "waning" due to starvation and flooding of the coastal areas where the majority of the world's population lives, then I guess there's probably nothing that will happen from GW that you would consider a disaster.

Would the extinction of the human race be a disaster? Not that global warming will cause it. I'm just wondering. Would a repeat of the K-T Event be considered a disaster? I mean some humans might survive that. So, problem or no?

I'm just trying to calibrate my gauge here.

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28979717)

Sounds kind of like global warming, where the people screaming most loudly about scientific consensus are also the ones that stand to benefit the most greatly financially... It all screams conflict of interest.

So long as they are open in how they go about it, you could also call it putting your money where your mouth is. If the global warming models were to stop proving true, public consensus for CO2 restriction would be short-lived.

And in the case of global warming, don't forget the heavyweight opposition is even more financially motivated and entrenched.

I agree the motives are not all pure. But Wyeth's intentional deception in this case is what makes it really bad.

Uh, _who_ benefits most from the FUD campaign? (1)

StefanJ (88986) | about 5 years ago | (#28979771)

Do you really think Al Gore is getting anywhere as much money warning people about global warming as the fossil fuel industries are continuing to earn by telling people there's nothing to worry about?

There's an established paper trail linking oil and coal companies to greenhouse skeptic groups.

Just last week it was revealed that a lobbying group funded by coal companies was writing bogus letters opposing the climate change bill to lawmakers.

Re:Uh, _who_ benefits most from the FUD campaign? (1)

Maniacal (12626) | about 5 years ago | (#28979949)

Just because Al Gore hasn't made as much off of this as the fossil fuel industries it doesn't make it ok. Al Gore has made millions (and won an oscar) because of the bullshit he spews. A sweeter smelling turd is still a turd

Re:"Scientific Consensus" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28980007)

Sounds kind of like global warming, where the people screaming most loudly about scientific consensus are also the ones that stand to benefit the most greatly financially. Just look at Al Gore and his carbon trading investments. It all screams conflict of interest.

Yeah, and all those "scientists" chasing BIG FUNDING!

The constant gardener ? (1, Offtopic)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#28979517)

The Constant Gardener is a 2001 novel by John le Carré. It tells the story of Justin Quayle, a British diplomat whose activist wife is murdered. Believing that there is more behind the murder, he seeks to uncover the truth behind her death, and finds an international conspiracy of corrupt bureaucracy and pharmaceutical money. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constant_Gardener [wikipedia.org] )

Perhaps now people will isten? (3, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 5 years ago | (#28979535)

Yeah right...

This happens when you trust people who make money when you don't feel well. When will people learn that doctors do not profit from you being healthy? Neither do pharmaceutical companies. Taking medicine in the belief that whoever gave it to you wanted you to feel better is very naive.

It's stuff like this, and many personal experiences, that make me so cynical toward doctors. It's a sad state of things, but there you have it.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979591)

Your an idiot.
I know quite a few doctors, and all of them want to see their patients get healthy. It's not like they don't have enough business.

What does a Doctor gain by prescribing you a treatment that isn't needed?

I am of course tlkaing about science based medicine, Natural path, homeopaths, acupuncturist and others of there ilk are a different matter. They charge of treatments that do no damn good.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

Ardaen (1099611) | about 5 years ago | (#28979683)

Unfortunately, these studies are probably aimed at the doctors, not the patients. Convince the doctor and often you've convinced the patient. The doctor's intent usually isn't the problem.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979849)

Except these weren't real studies, they were meta-studies and all doctors I know understand the value of meta studies.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979829)

From what I've encountered, the overuse of diagnostics etc. that don't do any real good seems to be the result of a fear of being sued for not doing enough to diagnose/treat the patient. As far as I am concerned such suits should be binding against actual malpractice. That is, failures on the part of the doctor's end that would not be considered a reasonable response. operating on the wrong leg, prescribing a drug that is clearly labeled as being a dangerous allergen to the patient etc..

Defensive Medicine (2, Insightful)

rcb1974 (654474) | about 5 years ago | (#28980001)

What does a Doctor gain by prescribing you a treatment that isn't needed?

Defensive Medicine (CYA for doctors) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28980089)

Your an idiot.

What does a Doctor gain by prescribing you a treatment that isn't needed?

Because health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are known provide financial incentives to health care providers (i.e., doctors) to use (or not) specific treatments or drugs. Believing that all medical practitioners are altruistic, ethical, or even honest strikes me as idiocy.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

aaandre (526056) | about 5 years ago | (#28979653)

Also, drug advertising on TV. Like candy for old people.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (0)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#28979665)

Taking medicine in the belief that whoever gave it to you wanted you to feel better is very naive.

They want you to feel better. They just don't want you to *be* better. They want you dependent on their drugs, or on doctor visits.

FWIW, many years ago I attended a College of Pharmacy. It wasn't until just over 4 years into the program that I realized I didn't want to work in the industry for ethical reasons. The thing that got me the most... the pharma industry, including the colleges, described "quality of life" to be the biggest issue. Not curing disease, not curing underlying causes... but maintenance treatment of symptoms, and underlying causes of those symptoms.

Pharma companies --> Grants to universities --> universities stress the pharma companies' agendas --> university graduates go to work at the pharma companies and the pharmacies and the clinical settings.

I felt as though they were trying to brainwash me into thinking that aggressive chemical treatment was the best solution for any ailment.

I'm cynical, and somewhat jaded, but I really feel that the pharma industry needs to be ripped apart. For all the well-intentioned individuals within the companies, there is a lot of evil shit going on for the sake of profit.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

fuckface (32611) | about 5 years ago | (#28979675)

I'd say the problem lies more in the insurance companies than anyone else. They don't want to pay a claim unless you can prove that you're suffering from some condition. Pro-active health care just isn't in their lexicon.

Re:Perhaps now people will isten? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979757)

almost nothing that has been produced in society was for someone else's greater good but rather in exchange for something of value to the producer. The system requires selfishness on the part of essentially everyone involved [pharma to research and produce the drug] the patient to stay reasonably informed and the government to enforce laws against fraud. The real problems arise when the power balance is broken: the government doesn't do its job of going after fraud or big pharma defrauding the patient or the patient using government as a baseball bat to do anything other than its basic purpose- police just laws.

Ugh (5, Insightful)

Ardaen (1099611) | about 5 years ago | (#28979545)

Just what we need, drug companies further muddling the waters so not even doctors can tell which treatments are useful or necessary. No wonder we see large movements away from things like vaccinations, which save lives. People are left with too many doubts and questions, fear doesn't lead to good decision making.

Unsurprising to Me (0, Troll)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#28979841)

Just what we need, drug companies further muddling the waters so not even doctors can tell which treatments are useful or necessary. No wonder we see large movements away from things like vaccinations, which save lives. People are left with too many doubts and questions, fear doesn't lead to good decision making.

Do you think the operating system world is the only place where a war of words is fought by Microsoft to stay on top? Don't you see that this happens in every other field where dominant players refuse to fight fairly, refuse to let their products speak for themselves and refuse to innovate to stay alive? The market their product and they out market their competition. They're paying for ads in those medical journals, now they've found a new way to advertise.

Are you familiar with the third world being turned into a testing ground by companies like Pfizer [wikipedia.org] where clinical trials aren't that important of a prerequisite? Their questionable [knowmore.org] ethics don't end there. Doping medical journals with fake studies to get your product to sell sell sell is nothing surprising. My older sister is a nurse and tells me that companies that sell medical supplies basically take the doctors out to get drunk and pay for them to go to conferences and boondoggles all so that the doctor recommends their product. Of course these multi-billion dollar companies are going to toe the line of ethics to keep their revenue source coming in.

And until someone steps up and really puts the hurt on those that get caught, everyone's going to keep doing it.

These people are marketers, they'll stop at nothing. Who cares about the dangers of Acetaminophen-Based Pain Killers [slashdot.org] , that's their revenue so they'll keep that on the market--Christ can we at least get a warning label not to mix them? The only place a code of ethics exists in big pharmaceuticals is in the bathroom stalls next to the diamond studded golden backscratchers where the CEO can whip their ass with it.

Re:Ugh (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979855)

Technically pharma produces said vaccinations so I doubt they would acively try to discourage people from using them. Most of the problem with parents refusing vaccinations has been due to a combination of bad education and distrust of anything the public does not understand. Only a minority knows what vaccines are, how they work and what is in them hence, there is going to be a lot of people weary of using them.

Appropriate responses (1)

Sgt_Jake (659140) | about 5 years ago | (#28979567)

1) Make everyone involved from the CEO on down take those drugs daily for 20 years (especially the men).
2) Charge them all with murder, maiming, etc.

Corporations can't be charged with murder (or take drugs), which is why that system is broken. Unless SOMEONE is responsible, no one is.

Re:Appropriate responses (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28979893)

They are guilty of scientific fraud and should be charged as such. 1) everyone involved should face the criminal penalties of fraud 2) the corporations involved should be sued right into the ground by everyone affected in a massive class action lawsuit.
The government's job is clear here. Why these guys are not frying for this is a clear indicator that something has gone terribly wrong in our justice/governmental system.

Re:Appropriate responses (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | about 5 years ago | (#28979991)

Corporations can't be charged with murder (or take drugs), which is why that system is broken

What exactly would be the point of charging the corporation with murder? What is the benefit? Corporations aren't charged with crimes because corporations have can't have criminal intent. In any situation you feel you could charge a corporation with a crime, you can charge the individuals that committed the crime instead, which is really what you want.

Corporations can still be held criminally liable, so you can get all sorts of damages out of them in a civil suit, but how can you send a corporation to prison?

Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979617)

Can someone compile a list of the authors? It would make it easy for me to reject papers of these authors with extreme prejudice. I mean, they've proven they can't be trusted.

The list (5, Insightful)

aaandre (526056) | about 5 years ago | (#28979631)

I wonder if there's a list pharmaceutical company CEOs distribute to their immediate families...

Dear Mom, here's a list of medications made by pfeiser that I wouldn't take, even if my doctor recommended them.

Your loving son, Jeff.

That would be a great read on wikileaks.

Re:The list (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28980103)

They don't need a list. It's everything. And everything not.

Or in simpler words: Think for yourself. Never ever take a pill, without knowing *exactly* how it works, and either studies from people you personally trust, or taking the risk.

Turns out, you *need* nearly no medication at all. Eat really healthy (organic and as little processed as possible, and really tasty at the same time!), exercise, live in a healthy environment (just as much mental as physical), and you are going to be fine, and get old in a nice way. That's really how easy it is!

You only need medication in rare cases, like antibiotics, in life-threatening situations or in case of an injury. Then it's worth the trade-off.
Oh, and of course there are genetic problems, that we still can't fix right in the genetics. So you may have to help yourself out with them too.

Continued assaults (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979635)

These types of tactics continue today. Just who do you think is behind every attempt to derail health care reform?

Capitalism at it's best. (1)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | about 5 years ago | (#28979687)

This the just the market correcting itself. Capitalism at it's best.

Protecting investment ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28979691)

Well this is very natural! The company is protecting it's investment. Did apple told people that their iphones were going to explode and burn? No! I sure that Wyeth recovered their investment in hormone therapy and apple recovered their investment on the iPhone development. Thay are happy. Wyeth doensn't care about women getting cancer they will need even more medicine. Apple don't care about burnt hands.

Re:Protecting investment ... (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28979879)

But the law should, and should make the *criminal* and *civil* penalties so utterly destructive to any business that they don't dare do it. I'm talking life imprisonment, seizure of assets, massive awards for those injured, and so forth. I mean, basically make such behavior a recipe for extinction of the company, utter destruction of share value, imprisonment of researchers who colluded, seizures of every asset of every member of the board, every officer of the company, and so forth.

"Consensus"? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28979697)

In real science, no consensus is required. If you need any such thing, you only admit that you don't know. Either you have hard evidence to convince other scientists, or you are just playing dice with the Universe in hope that your insufficiently substantiated paper is correct.

Re:"Consensus"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28979889)

Even hard facts have consensus. There is a consensus that the speed of light in vacume is 299 792 458 m / s. With ALL science, new evidence may change things.

You really have no idea what consensus mean in this context, do you?

Is it possible to even punish them enough? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 5 years ago | (#28979737)

Seriously.

'found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.'

They sold two billion dollars worth of a product (in 2001 alone) that they manipulated into being not only harmless (like tobacco companies), but manufactured evidence that it was healthy and beneficial (something even the tobacco companies didn't stoop to).

Essentially they ran a multi billion dollar scam, caused serious damage to the health of how many people exactly? From 2001 (last year before the sales plummeted) until 2008 they sold a minimum of 210 million prescriptions (from the graph in the article).

And yet, the likelihood of the senior staff (including board members) getting punished is low to non-existent and even if the company is forced to close down its doors, I wouldn't want to lay odds against them not getting some cushy job again.

Maybe it's time we reintroduced corporal punishment for stuff like this? We can go easy on them. 100 lashes per 'victim' by this to the people directly responsible (including the ghost writers), 10 lashes per 'victim' to those indirectly involved (i.e. board members who merely signed off on the idea or didn't care). That's in addition to the massive fines and compensation the company should be forced to pay.

And if the company goes bankrupt in the process? Tough shit. Profit is not more important than public health. If you think it is, you're not a capitalist, you're a fascist.

Don't try (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#28979785)

those medicines didn't cured those writers, probably will kill you too.

I am a physician (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 years ago | (#28979885)

And I can tell you frankly that the medical profession is split in two. There are people who are in it for the human aspect - usually the doctors. Then there's the people who are in it for the money: The pharmaceutical companies.

This is not surprising, coming off another recent study done by (and now we learn that it was paid for) and published in a magazine owned by a subsidiary of Merck.

Just the fact that these companies are allowed to advertise on TV directly to patients is disgusting. But ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you, because you don't need it at all, or there's probably some cheaper similar drug whose patent has expired and costs 1/4 the price, but if you waste your doctor's time enough he'll write the prescription just to get you out of his office with a smile on your face. After all if he says "NO", you might not come back.

Just the fact that an HIV patient will literally die bankrupt, at $1000+ per month for the meds. Unless you're very rich, you won't be able to keep THAT up for very long, and when you run out of money - so sorry, we can recommend a hospice for you.

Pharmaceutical companies scream about billions of dollars in research, yet they can afford all that printed material for doctors, 5 star hotels for doctors for "seminars", pens, calculators, TV air time, etc. Yet some companies still make money with Aspirin - yes the name belongs to Bayer, but anyone can make and sell acetyl-salicylic acid - the patent expired years ago.

No, big pharma loves the protections patent law gives them, and if they can completely distort the market and throw actual science out of the window WHO CARES so long as it increases sales.

That's why we have Cochrane studies, where we DOCTORS look back at what we're doing and seeing if it REALLY IS effective. A new study from my country published by a close friend of mine suggests that having your blood pressure at 140/90mmHg gives NO INCREASED RISK of heart disease or stroke. But studies paid for by big pharma INSIST (and they've convinced the American Heart Association) that your blood pressure has to be UNDER 120/80. In fact, they want TEENAGERS to start taking blood pressure medication. Hey, at $100-200 per patient per month, SO WOULD I. But we know full well where the unethical branch of the medical sciences is...

The above comment is my opinion as a 3rd world physician, since I have to watch people die because they can't afford the few medications that DO work as advertised (and are thus even MORE expensive).

Truely dispicable.. (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 5 years ago | (#28979913)

The writers, the people that paid them and the people that made the decisions that brought this about NEED to be prosecuted, not only for the fraud perpetrated here, but for the manslaughter of any women that died as a result of this therapy. Wyeth should lose their right to do business in this country as well.

Now I can see some writer saying "WTF? I just wrote an article!", but that does not excuse the fact they were ghost-writing in a MEDICAL journal. They would have to know that decisions that involve the lives and physical well-being of people are, to some extent, based on these journals and the articles within them.

You can't legislate morality, but you can most certainly prosecute for a lack of it.

Suggested Remedy (3, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | about 5 years ago | (#28980047)

Beyond any direct fines or other remedies, just halve the patent times on all their patents across the board for each infraction. Sixteen years of protection left on Xyliklopper? Now it's eight.

The problem is the FDA, taken over by pharma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28980111)

Human nature means that all regulatory agencies are taken over by the regulatees. Contrary to most assumptions, big pharma LIKES ever-increasing FDA regulations, as they insulate existing/big companies from competition from foreign or smaller companies. For example, Europe has about 1000 drugs in use which are not available in the US, and no startup drug company can afford to take their product through clinical trials, thus must partner with one of the biggies.

The FDA's regulations make a new drug cost $1B. Thus, no drug can be considered for development unless there is a $2B per year market for that drug.

As there are not many drug markets of that size, the BIG drug companies (Notice how the drug industry looks like the military/intelligence industry ? Same reason, one customer. ) have only a few choices, one of which is to make the markets bigger.

A couple of years ago, there were only 19 new drugs that made it through the FDA's screens. Thus, we Americans don't die of un-safe drugs (well, not so much), we die of too few new drugs.

Cancer is a fine example of where the FDA has halted progress : there are many varieties of cancer, few of which make a 2 $B / year market. Nobody gets excited about that, those are 'natural' deaths, whereas a drug that causes a death, even where the players have been completely honest in their testing, creates a firestorm of publicity and the FDA makes more regulations to protect itself and the big pharma companies from such political problems.

Dumb system : it could easily be replaced with a public database, maintained by Consumers Union or some such. If MDs put ALL of their case info into the DB when using a new drug, and checked statistics in the DB, they would be immune to law suite. They would only use new drugs on the most critical patients, so that the patients with the most to gain would bear most of the risk. Sensible, and what we used to do before medical ethicists got involved.

Will anything come of this? (1)

Theovon (109752) | about 5 years ago | (#28980209)

Pharm companies are doing this kind of stuff all the time, and the FDA just lets them get away with it. Somehow, I don't see criminal charges ever getting filed here. CEOs will pass the buck, and they'll go on with business as usual.

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