November 13, 2005

How Drug Companies Deceive Doctors

"The editor of the British Journal of Medicine has acknowledged that medical ghostwriting has become a serious problem for his publication: “We are being hoodwinked by the drug companies. The articles come in with doctors’ names on them and we often find some of them have little or no idea about what they have written."
If you, my readers, had a chance to get to know me, after a time you would figure out that I am a pretty reasonable person. I am not one easily taken to conspiracy theories, or a very suspicious person. I am the daughter of a career Naval Officer who has a great deal of respect for the traditions and missions of the military. I have been to demonstrations three times in my life, once in college at a pro-life rally in DC, and twice this year at anti-mercury rallies in DC. Both times because I believed that babies who could not advocate for themselves were being harmed. I am, in general, respectful of the establishment, and if I wanted to make a change, my style is to make it from the inside.

I am a republican and a Christian for goodness sake.

I certainly didn't go looking for this fight with the medical establishment. It came looking for me the first time my doctor lied to me about what was in my son's vaccines. In 2000 I was a new mom with a preemie just out of the hospital and had heard the year before about mercury in vaccines. I asked my doctor if the shots he was going to give my son had mercury in them and he looked at me like I had asked him if he still used leeches and said curtly, "nobody uses those any more". I believed him, and was a little ashamed that I had clearly offended him. His nurse then came into the office and injected Webster with 25mcg of mercury.

It is not until 4 years later, after Chandler regressed into autism following his 18 month vaccinations until I started looking into all of this. The facts about mercury, the crappy science that is being relied on to 'prove' it's safety and non-link to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The sad fact that the medical establishment is ignoring the most promising treatments for this heartbreaking disorder because it implicates their vaccines. The fact that Duke University says, flat out, that Terbutaline causes autism and OB's are still using it on pregnant women. It is not until we became victims of medical system that it ever would have occurred to me to dig this hard to find out what is really going on, nor do so much work to try to let other's know what I am learning.

If my upbringing taught me anything, it is that when you find something so out of balance, and have the means to do something about it, you have to. Bonhoffer said, "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing". So I can't not write about what I am learning.

Which brings me to the article I am posting today. When the editor of one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, one of the gate keepers of medical science, freely admits that around half the material that he is putting his name on is manipulated by pharmaceutical companies, and not even written by those whose name is on the papers, and when the FDA and NIH and CDC have a revolving door policy so that those who are making public health policy are also getting checks from Pharma, then who can trust the medical community any more?

And what does it say about the media that this article with these damning quotes straight from the heads of the worlds best medical journals is being published on a tiny web site instead of the front page of the Washington Post?

...And now we want to insulate Big Pharma from being sued for their products? That is the last check we have on the pharmaceutical companies, other than just not buying medicine or seeking medical treatment any more.

In making medical decisions for my family now, I have to do my own research, and read my own medical articles because even the most well meaning doctor has been lied to by the Med/Pharma/Gov? These are not even separate entities any more. Just Medpharmgov.

My plea to Medpharmgov is this, will someone with some pull, who can't be bought with money or power, please grow a pair and do something about this disaster?


Shane Ellison M. Sc.
November13, 2005

Following doctor’s orders has become synonymous with danger. Every year, FDA approved drugs kill twice as many people as the total number of U.S. deaths from the Vietnam War.[1] Death by medicine flourishes because deceit, not science, governs a doctor’s prescribing habits. As an ex-drug chemist, I witnessed this first-hand.

This deceit comes in many forms. Medical ghostwriting and checkbook science are the most prominent.

Doctors rely on peer-reviewed medical journals to learn about prescription drugs. These journals include the Lancet, British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. It is assumed that these professional journals offer the hard science behind any given drug. This assumption is wrong. Medical journals can’t be trusted thanks to medical ghost writing.

Medical ghostwriting is the practice of hiring PhD’s to crank out drug reports that hype benefits and hide negative side effects. Once complete, drug companies recruit doctor’s to put their name on the report as authors. These reports are then published in the above mentioned medical journals.[2] The carrot for this deceitful practice is money and prestige. Ghostwriters can receive up to $20,000 per report. Doctors receive prestige from having been published. Ultimately, patients get bad drugs disguised as good medicine.

As deplorable as medical ghostwriting sounds, it is more common than you think. The world’s most influential medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, has admitted that 50% of their drug articles are ghostwritten.

The editor of the British Journal of Medicine has acknowledged that medical ghostwriting has become a serious problem for his publication: “We are being hoodwinked by the drug companies. The articles come in with doctors’ names on them and we often find some of them have little or no idea about what they have written.”[3]

Consider the testimony from deputy editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association: “This [journal articles] is all about bypassing science. Medicine is becoming a sort of Cloud Cuckoo Land, where doctors don’t know what papers they can trust in the journals, and the public doesn’t want to believe.”[4]

Other weapons of mass deception exist – checkbook science. As defined by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, checkbook science is research intended not to expand knowledge or to benefit humanity, but instead to sell drugs. It has stolen the very soul of University research, scientific method, and the patients who serve as human subjects.[5]

Drug companies use checkbook science to sponsor their own drug research via the halls of academia and government institutions. Money is used to design their own studies, interpret the results, and stuff negative data under the drug-rug. The drug-rug is a behemoth rug. It has to be. A myriad of negative drug data exists.

Like medical ghostwriting, checkbook science is more common than you think. A third of academic professors have personal financial ties to drug makers.[6] Called the “Stealth Merger” by the LA Times, top scientists at the National Institutes of Health also collect paychecks and stock options from the drug industry.[7] This has been going on for over 20 years.[8] Known as the Bayh-Dole Act, U.S law was amended in 1980 to allow for these flagrant conflicts of interest.[4]

This calculated deceit is scandalous. Hopefully the line at the pharmaceutical trough gets shorter as this scandal becomes public. Though, drug makers have an insurance policy for this – Direct-to-Consumer advertising. The oft repeated “ask your doctor” ensures that the herd instinctively embraces drugs, drugs and more drugs.

Understanding medical ghost writing and checkbook science explains why medical doctors have been hypnotized into drug worship – they only see the positive. It also explains why modern medicine is more deadly and lucrative than war – the danger has been silenced with the pen and money.

Drug companies do not take responsibility for the wonton prescription drug deceit. Instead, victims have been made invisible - dehumanized. They are not recognized as children, or men with significant contribution to society. Their deaths are simply shrugged off and attributed to sickness or aging.

Those who profit from prescription drugs should hold some sort of record for the having the most reckless disregard for human life. If the deceit continues the prescription drug leviathan will silently kill more people than Napalm dropped on Vietnamese villages.


1, Approximately 58,000 American's died in Vietnam. FDA approved drugs kill 106 - 125,000 people per year when used as prescribed.
2, Source: CBC's Marketplace. Aired March 25, 2003. Researcher Colman Jones.
3, Revealed: How Drug Firms 'Hoodwink' Medical Journals
4, Shannon Brownlee. Doctors Without Borders. Why you can't trust medical journals anymore. Washington Monthly. April 2003.
5, Zuckerman, D. Hype in health reporting: "checkbook science" buys distortion of medical news. International Journal of Health Services. 2003;33(2). 6, Bekelman, J.E., Li, Y. and Gross, C. P. Scope and impact of financial conflicts of interest in biomedical research. Journal of the American Medical Association. 289: 454-465.
7, Willman D. Stealth merger: drug companies and government medical research. Los Angeles Times. 2003 Dec 7;:A1, A32-3.
8, Doctors Without Borders - Shannon Brownlee

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to be first in line to get my flu shot and didn't even hesitate to give my 18 month old son the two flu shots recommended by my pediatrician. My thoughts were 'those people who think vaccinations cause autism are just desparate to find something to blame'. I had complete faith in the medical establishment. At 22 months my son had regressive autism. Now the blame falls on me for being too ignorant and naive.