November 22

Corruption in drug research – NYT Corruption in Medicine – BMJ

Corruption in drug research – NYT
Corruption in Medicine – BMJ

Sat, 23 Nov 2002

Two powerful exposes focus on the corruption of academic medicine on both sides of the Atlantic.

Melody Peterson’s front page investigative report in The New York Times (released simultaneously with PBS broadcast with Bill Moyers), exposes the fraudulent tactics used by the pharmaceutical industry and its advertising agencies to promote new drugs.

Peterson reports how industry exercises control over medical practice and research through covert promotion and financial enticements to physicians. And she reports about corrupt marketing practices that masquerade as research. Pharmaceutical Ad agencies a.k.a. “medical education companies” have corrupted the scientific literature to the point that it is unreliable.

The report shows how Intramed, a subsidiary of a global ad agency giant, WPP, orchestrated marketing campaigns for new–not necessarily better–drugs. Novartis is shown to have launched its long-acting version of Ritalin by a ghostwritten article signed by two academic professors-—Dr. John S. Markowitz and Dr. Kennerly S. Patrick. A teleconference transcript obtained by the Times, revealed that Shane Schaffer, a Novartis marketing executive, “told the doctors that the company wanted “a quick, down and dirty” article.” And “the lack of research findings should not be an obstacle.”

Another example of tampering with the scientific integrity of research focuses on the launching of Forest Laboratories’ antidepressant, Lexapro, “a chemically refined version of Celexa.” Dr. Jack Gorman, whose financial ties to drug companies was the subject of a N Y Post series in 1999, wrote the only favorable article about Lexapro, which he published in a journal that he edits and that is funded by Forest Laboratories.


November 22, 2002

Madison Ave. Plays Growing Role in Drug Research



Another revealing article about scientific fraud is by Dr. Peter Wilmshurst, consultant cardiologist, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in England, published in The British Medical Journal.

Some call Peter Wilmshurst British medicine’s “champion whistleblower.” His article sheds light on British academia’s complicitness in harboring corrupt academics who have been found guilty of fraud, falsification, and corrupt practices.

Wilmhurst describes the case of Anjan Kumar Banerjee and corruption at a senior level in academic institutions. How is it that a decade had elapsed between the time when Banerjee admitted to senior doctors at King’s College Hospital that he had falsified research and when he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct?

During that decade, he had been awarded a degree based on the fraudulent research by the University of London (which is still not retracted), become a consultant, had his work published in Gut, been awarded a professorship by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and become a fellow of one of the royal colleges of physicians.

In September 2002 Banerjee was again found guilty of serious professional misconduct, this time for financial fraud.

“Institutional corruption in medicine,”

published in the British Medical Journal 2002;325:1232-1235 ( 23 November )


MEDIALERTS observation that doctors have something to learn from the culture of law enforcement:

Policemen, unlike doctors, work on the assumption that once something is shown to be fraudulent everything else is fraudulent until proved otherwise.

A TRIBUTE to doctors of integrity:

Until very recently I thought of integrity as something you had and lost only through misbehaviour. Now I think of it as something you must struggle every day to sustain. Constantly we are presented with problems where a response that is less than wholly honest is the easiest response. Most of us succumb, but some peoplelike Peter Wilmshurst work to a higher standard. Such people might be statistically odd, but medicine is lucky to have them.

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