The medical research world has been concerned about the problem of ghostwriting for more than a decade.
The issue has been repeatedly raised in the mainstream media over the past few years, with most of the commentary focused on the ethics of academics serving as authors on papers they did not write and on some of the most egregious actions by pharmaceutical companies.
But these efforts miss the ways in which Big Pharma has developed new forms of medical research to serve its own interests.
Big Pharma firms spend twice as much on promotion as on research and development (R&D). But it is worse than that: more and more medical R&D is organized as promotional campaigns to make physicians aware of products. The bulk of the industryâ€™s external funding for research now goes to contract research organizations to produce studies that feed into large numbers of articles submitted to medical journals.
Internal documents from Pfizer, made public in litigation, showed that 85 scientific articles on its antidepressant Zoloft were produced and coordinated by a public relations company. Pfizer itself thus produced a critical mass of the favorable articles placed among the 211 scientific papers on Zoloft in the same period. Internal documents tell similar stories for Merckâ€™s Vioxx, GlaxoSmithKlineâ€™s Paxil, Astra-Zenecaâ€™s Seroquel, and Wyethâ€™s hormone-replacement drugs.
In the ghost management of research and publication by drug companies we have a new model of science. This is corporate science, done by many unseen workers, performed for marketing purposes, and drawing its authority from traditional academic science. The high commercial stakes mean that all of the parties connected with this new corporate science can find reasons or be induced to participate, support, and steadily normalize it. It also biases the available science by pushing favorable results and downplaying negative ones â€“ and sometimes through outright fraud.
The underlying problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases,” combined with the profit-motives of pharmaceutical companies vying for a piece of the resultant psychiatric “treatment.”
Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. All psychiatric treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, are dangerous.