Doctors were Paid to Praise Hormone Replacement Therapy

September, 2010

The Haunting of Medical Journals: How Ghostwriting Sold “HRT”

This article, written by Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown University Medical Center, which appears in the September 2010 issue of PLoS Medicine, reveals the ethically questionable ways in which Wyeth Pharmaceuticals promoted Prempro, a menopausal hormone replacement medication.

Wyeth paid highly respected physicians to allow their names to be listed as authors of research studies, reviews, commentaries, and letters to the editor, although they had not actually conducted or analyzed the research nor written the articles.  These articles were published in medical journals and widely quoted, persuading doctors that hormone therapy was necessary and beneficial to reduce the detrimental effects of menopause and aging on women.  Research subsequently proved that most of the “benefits” were unfounded, and that the truth was sometimes exactly the opposite of the claims: for example, hormone therapy had a negative rather than positive impact on memory.