A federal judge has ordered the unsealing of thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the ghostwriting practices of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which is being sued over hormone replacement drugs.
U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson ordered the papers unsealed Friday at the request of a medical journal and The New York Times. Plaintiffs attorneys presented the papers earlier at trial to show Wyeth routinely hired medical-writing firms to ghostwrite articles that appeared in seemingly objective medical journals but included only the name of a scientific researcher as the author.
In December 2008, the New York Times reported thatWyeth played a suspiciously large role in preparing articles that cast its hormone replacement therapy PremPro in a favourable light. The articles, published in medical journals, contrast with the findings from major studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health, which found that(pdf) women who have taken PremPro have an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart attack and blood clots in the legs and lungs.
If true, the practice of a company ghostwriting scientific journal articles is simply outrageous and all of those involved should be severely punished, as it places scientific research into disrepute and subject to dispute. Someone needs some time to think long and hard about their actions and misconduct on this one. For example, forfeiture of a medical licence by an article’s author, who did not actually write the scientific article, may be an appropriate penalty in this case.