Fraud, Ghosts, and Big Pharma
What if 26 major scientific papers that shaped and guided medical therapies for over 10 years were not actually written by the authors stated in the papers? What if the papers only promoted the positive effects of a particular therapy and de-emphasized the negative effects in order to increase pharmaceutical sales? What if the scientific papers actually promoted a now discredited therapy that ended up causing tens of thousands of cases of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke and deaths? Do you think there should be an investigation into these allegations? Perhaps that responsible need to be made held accountable for their actions. Maybe there should be a full congressional investigation into this billion dollar fraud that was perpetrated on millions of American women.
Who committed this fraud? Wyeth pharmaceutical, the maker of the synthetic hormones Premarin and Provera, committed this act by paying for ghostwriters to write scientific articles (more about this below). For over 25 years, Wyeth has been promoting Premarin and Provera as the treatment-of-choice for menopausal symptoms in women. Wyeth has spread misinformation about these synthetic hormones including the use of these foreign substances will prevent heart attacks and not increase the rate of breast cancers. Unfortunately, this synthetic hormone combination has been proven to significantly raise the risk of heart attacks (29%), invasive breast cancer (26%), stoke (41%), Alzheimer’s (205%) and pulmonary embolism (2,100%).[i]
According to a front-page article in the New York Times (8.5.09), while thousands of women were being harmed from these dangerous, synthetic hormones, Wyeth was paying ghost writers to author biased papers supporting the use of Premarin and Provera. Sales of these drugs rose to over $2 billion dollars in 2001. Ghostwriters were paid to promote the company line on these synthetic hormones and then prominent doctors were paid to put their name as the lead authors. The physicians had little or no input on these articles. These papers were published in many respected medical journals and certainly influenced medical opinion.
It all fell apart for Wyeth in 2002 when the findings of the Women’s Health Initiative was announced. The results (see above) clearly showed the synthetic hormones were dangerous and needed to be avoided.
How did Wyeth respond? The company responded by attacking natural, bioidentical hormones. Wyeth has filed a citizen’s petition with the FDA to remove a safe and effective bioidentical, natural hormone, estriol, from the market.
What can we all do? We can write to our congressmen and the President and let them know how we feel. Also, please look at http://www.bioidenticalhormoneinitiative.com/, which is a group I co-founded to promote the education of natural therapies. Finally, we can educate ourselves about safe and effective natural therapies so that we can make the best medical decisions for ourselves and our family.
Synthetic, foreign hormones like Premarin and Provera need to be avoided. For any therapy, a bioidentical, natural hormone is the safest, and most-effective approach. More information about these hormones can be found in my book, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, 3rd Edition.
[i] JAMA. 7.17.02. VOl. 288, No. 3