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Deepwide Reports

Vested Interest.

Drug companies keep the real researchers under wraps.

Medical trials are a vital part of drug marketing. With a positive result, the
manufacturer can press even harder to get the drug more widely
prescribed. The results also get plastered across advertisements in
medical journals, so reinforcing the idea that the drug is both safe and

But the trial has also to be seen to be independent if it’s to have any
credibility. Unfortunately, most trials are funded by the drug company,
and they are prepared and written by the company’s employees.

Under recent disclosure regulations, there’s not much the drug company
can do to hide the funding source – even though it reveals it in the
smallest type possible – but there’s plenty it can do to hide the authors.

It’s common practice to recruit a ‘name’ – usually a professor at a medical
school – who takes full credit for preparing the study, even though he
probably hasn’t even bothered to read it. Meanwhile, the true authors
slip back into their corporate obscurity.

In a recent review of 44 medical trials published in 1994 or 1995, 33
were ‘ghosted’ – in other words, the true authors were never revealed.
And, to a man, they worked for the drug company who would benefit
from the favourable study.

(Source: PloS Medicine, 2007;4:e19).

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