Who Really Is Writing All Those Scientific Studies?

In a piece I wrote last year, I identified one of the countless, but more obscure, problems with conventional medicine: A reliance on medical journals filled with scientific articles crafted largely with the help of freelance ghostwriters paid by the mega-drug companies.

In light of last week's revelations about the discrepancies surrounding the New England Journal of Medicine's erroneous and biased Vioxx study, this fascinating piece takes a hard look at these "seemingly objective articles" written and edited largely by ghostwriters.

Interestingly, another journal -- Annals of Internal Medicine -- found itself in similar hot water earlier this year when one of the "authors" of a 2003 Vioxx study it published confessed he had little to do with the research.

Drug companies claim they're providing a "service" to lesser writers and a Pfizer employee pointed out those "authors" are required to sign off on everything before a manuscript sees the light of day. What's more, according to an analysis, only 10 percent of drug company-sponsored studies appearing in leading medical journals acknowledged they were "artificially sweetened" with the help of a freelancer.

More evidence, folks, it always pays to be skeptical and observant when it comes to your health, especially with all the money drug companies throw at researchers as well as you in the form of advertising.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 13, 2005