In a front-page story last week on August 5th, the New York Times reported that "Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by [Wyeth] 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 were uncovered by lawyers suing Wyeth over the hormone therapy written about.
The articles were drafted by a medical communications firm paid by Wyeth, and were "published in 18 medical journals including The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology. between 1998 and 2005." The articles did not disclose Wyeth’s role in initiating and paying for the work.
The articles "emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia."
The "supposed medical consensus" created by the papers is said to have helped sales of Wyeth's hormone drugs Premarin (conjugated estrogens) and Prempro (conjugated estrogens/medroxyprogesterone acetate) rise "to nearly $2 billion in 2001."
That "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."