Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Yikes! Drug Co. Wrote Its Own “Independent Doctor Reports”

If you see my pulse racing and my heart pounding, it’s not because I ran up a mountain.. It’s not because I took medication and this was a side effect.

It’s because the New York Times reports that drug companies routinely write their own research studies on new drugs, and then find prestigious doctors to sign them

“It almost calls into question all legitimate research that’s been conducted by the pharmaceutical industry with the academic physician,” said Dr. Ross, whose article, written with colleagues, was published Wednesday in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. and posted Tuesday on the journal’s Web site.

Oh yes, and the red flag was a study on Merck’s now-discredited drug Vioxx.

Gasp. Cough. Splutter.

Now–some disclosure before anyone accuses me of being a hypocrite: I don’t object to ghostwriting in principle. As a commercial writer-for-hire, I have seen my stuff go out under other people’s names many times, even on the cover of a book. Ironically enough, one of those was a bylined article in the New York Times that cribbed heavily from a press release I had written several years earlier for a client. I don’t see that as much different from having an accountant prepare my tax return.

But I see a fundamental difference between helping a client be a more effective marketer by writing stuff for the client to use as if it were his or her own, and putting together the research material that the government and the public use to determine if a new drug is safe. And the latter strikes me, at least, as definitely over the line.

I poked around and located the original JAMA article, which you can click to read.


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