Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Big Pharma Used Ghostwriters to Promote HRT

August 5th, 2009 by Elizabeth Kissling

I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you. The New York Times reports today that Wyeth, makers of Premarin and Prempro, hired ghostwriters to develop medical journal articles that promoted the use of these hormone treatments. The articles emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones. Although the articles were usually signed by a physician who had read and approved the articles, they did not disclose Wyeth’s role in initiating and paying for the work.

This matters. Doctors rely on medical journals to learn about the latest research and treatments in their areas of expertise. They should know when such research is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

Readers of this blog probably already know, too, that in 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) research on estrogen therapies after menopause was halted before the study was completed because the risks of these drugs were greater than the benefits. For more about these issues and the relevant research, see the Society for Menstrual Cycle research’s position statements on WHI and estrogen therapy, and learn why menopause is not an estrogen deficiency disease.

2 responses to “Big Pharma Used Ghostwriters to Promote HRT”

  1. Leslie Botha says:

    Not only did Big Pharma hire Ghostwriters for HRT – but they also did it for
    Gardasil. So if they have done it for these two products – one can assume that
    ghostwriters have written about other products as well.

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    We now know for sure that ghostwriters have been used in medical journal articles for all kinds of pharmaceutical products, Leslie. Did you see this recent piece in the New York Times, Ghostwriting Is Called Rife in Medical Journals? Apparently some editors are now trying to take a stand: PLoS Medicine published an editorial, and this piece ran in the New York Times on Thursday.

Readers should note that statements published in Menstruation Matters are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.