I Fear I May Have Set The Expectations For This Post Too High. After All, It Is Just Another Example Of Big Pharma Sucking Pud.

And honestly, if you're anything more than the most casual visitor to my little blog garden, the extent to which Big Pharma sucks pud really shouldn't surprise you by now. You probably know that when you see things like this taken from corporate websites, in this case that of Wyeth (soon to be part of Pfizer):

We bring to the world pharmaceutical and health care products that improve lives and deliver outstanding value to our customers and shareholders.


What is actually meant by the words "improve lives" is "doing things that increase breast cancer rates, and continuing to do them until our shit gets called by real scientists not on the payroll of Big Pharma"

The words "deliver outstanding value to our shareholders," however, mean exactly what they say.

There is a kid somewhere out there in Fargo, North Dakota though, who while I was delivering on the Bill Monning pill counting parade I promised you earlier this month, wrote me a nice comment hoping he would still get the scoop on the Big Pharma ghost writing story I promised you almost 2 months ago.

My turnaround time on these stories would be much shorter if I had some sort of dedicated blog revenue stream. Just sayin.' Anyway, this one's for you North Dakota kid. To the August 2nd New York Times:


Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.

The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.

But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.

But......but......all those scientificy papers said Premarin helped heart disease and dementia....you mean they were wrong? And not only wrong, but teetotally 180 degrees wrong from what the real facts were? Huh.

So.....quick question here. Why was it so easy to develop a "consensus" that Premarin was good for your heart and brain when the exact opposite turned out to be true, and it is so hard to apply the term "consensus" to something like global warming, something that is as true as Vicodin may be habit forming?

Hint. The words "sales....soared to nearly $2 billion" have something to do with it. Because when your goal is to take your sales sailboat in that kind of direction, you'll do things like this:

In 1997, for example, DesignWrite, a medical communications company in Princeton, N.J., proposed to Wyeth a two-year plan that would include the preparation of about 30 articles for publication in medical journals.

The development of an article on the treatment of menopausal hot flashes and night sweats illustrates DesignWrite’s methodology.

Sometime in 2003, a DesignWrite employee wrote a 14-page outline of the article; the author was listed as “TBD” — to be decided. In July 2003, DesignWrite sent the outline to Dr. Gloria Bachmann, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.


Let me just pause here to say Robert Wood Johnson. Wood. Johnson. Huh huh.....Huh huh....

Dr. Bachmann responded in an e-mail message to DesignWrite: “Outline is excellent as written.” In September 2003, DesignWrite e-mailed Dr. Bachmann the first draft of the article. She also pronounced that “excellent” and added, “I only had one correction which I highlighted in red.”

The article, a nearly verbatim copy of the DesignWrite draft, appeared in 2005 in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, with Dr. Bachmann listed as the primary author. It described hormone drugs as the “gold standard” for treating hot flashes and was less enthusiastic about other therapies.

The acknowledgments thanked several medical writers for their “editorial assistance,” not disclosing that those writers worked for DesignWrite, which charged Wyeth $25,000 to generate the article.

The most surprising thing for me here is that the article only went for 25 grand. Wyeth really does know how to provide great value for their shareholders evidently.

Wyeth did have this to say about how they pay people to plant research in respected scientific journals:

A spokesman for Wyeth said that the articles were scientifically accurate and that pharmaceutical companies routinely hired medical writing companies to assist authors in drafting manuscripts.


Let me repeat a paragraph a I quoted above to demonstrate what the words "scientifically accurate" evidently mean to Wyeth:


But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.

I'd also like to stop here and send a little message to the person who wrote me awhile back and said the federal government "would fuck up a peanut butter sandwich," and point out to him the words "federal study" in the paragraph above. I also want you to notice how the federal study came out in 2002, and how Wyeth was still pushing its junk science three years later in 2005. It would be so wrong for me to wish breast cancer on anyone's mother Mr. Peanut Butter sandwich, but I really think you should stick to your principles here and tell that Mom of yours how free market science says you should totally keep popping a Premarin a day.

Because the federal government just can't do a damn thing right can they?

Except expose bullshit checkbook science.

And run a healthcare plan with higher satisfaction rates and lower administrative costs than anything done by the private sector.

I have a question for the rest of you as well. Those of you who carried Big Pharma's water year after year, telling your customers not to worry, that this whole ta-do was just a figment in some trial lawyers wet dream. Don't you feel used now? Like a big 'ol piece of toilet paper? I know I do. I have a customer who had a mastectomy after taking Premarin for years whom I can barely look in the eye now, and I didn't ghostwrite anything. All I did was trust them.

Never again. Whenever I see that woman come in the store I am reminded never to trust them ever again.
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I Fear I May Have Set The Expectations For This Post Too High. After All, It Is Just Another Example Of Big Pharma Sucking Pud.
I Fear I May Have Set The Expectations For This Post Too High. After All, It Is Just Another Example Of Big Pharma Sucking Pud.
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