An Australian medical researcher claims Wyeth duped him into publishing a scientific paper that became part of its campaign to play down the dangers of its drugs for menopausal women,The Australian writes.
John Eden, an associate professor at the University of NSW and director of the Sydney Menopause Centre, tells the paper was shocked to learn a paper he published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology was one of more than 40 scientific articles Wyeth orchestrated to boost sales of its hormone-replacement drugs, such as Prempro.
Eden was recently cleared of an allegation that "ghostwriters" employed by Wyeth wrote his article, but he says that internal Wyeth documents obtained by The Australian show Wyeth misled him about its agenda and its behind-the-scenes role in his scientific paper.
In December 2008, the US Senate Finance Committee disclosed a probe into several researchers, including Eden, over ghostwritten articles by DesignWrite and allegedly paid for by Wyeth (see here). At the time, the paper, writes Eden refused to comment other than saying he stood by his article, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2003.
Court documents show that Wyeth paid DesignWrite to churn out more than 40 scientific papers on HRT drugs between 1997 and 2005, a period when evidence was emerging that the drugs significantly increased a woman's risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke, The Australian continues.
Eden tells the paper Wyeth suggested he write his article after inviting him to a company-sponsored symposium in New York in June 2000. At the time, Wyeth was preparing to launch a new pill containing the hormone progestin, and his research indicated progestin in high doses was beneficial to women with breast cancer.
The documents show a Wyeth marketing executive offered Eden the assistance of "knowledgeable and gifted writers" who could turn his research into a published paper. Wyeth came up with the title of the paper and DesignWrite paid a freelance science writer $3,000 to draft an 11-page "outline" that was sent him after being scrutinized by Wyeth's marketing department, The Australian writes.
Eden acknowledges he received editorial assistance in drafting and revising the paper but denies it was ghostwritten, and says the paper was based on his research and was controlled by him without any influence or payment to him from Wyeth. But he tells the paper he's angry that Wyeth had a hidden commercial agenda and was scrutiniing the article behind his back.
"If I had any idea, I would have said forget it," he tells The Australian, adding it was a "mistake" the paper failed to acknowledge Wyeth's assistance. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology investigated Eden's paper after it was named in the Senate probe, but recently told him it was not ghostwritten and said no further action would be taken. A spokesman for Pfizer, which acquired Wyeth last year, denied the articles were ghostwritten, and that authors had full control over content, according to The Australian.