Public Release: 

Influence of drug companies on medical literature


Physician awareness of drug cost: a systematic review

From a systematic review of data from 24 studies, Michael Allan and colleagues conclude that doctors often underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of those that are inexpensive.

Citation: Allan GM, Lexchin J, Wiebe N (2007) Physician awareness of drug cost: A systematic review. PLoS Med 4(9): e283.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:"request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283


CONTACT: Michael Allan, University of Alberta, Family Medicine
205 College Plaza
8215-112 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2C8
Tel: 1-780-720-4093

Bladder cancer decision analysis

Using a Markov model, Shabbir Alibhai and colleagues develop a decision analysis comparing cystectomy with conservative treatment for high-risk superficial bladder cancer depending on patient age, comorbid conditions, and preferences.

Citation: Kulkarni GS, Finelli A, Fleshner NE, Jewett MAS, Lopushinsky SR, et al. (2007) Optimal management of high-risk T1G3 bladder cancer: A decision analysis. PLoS Med 4(9): e284.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:"request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040284


CONTACT: Shabbir Alibhai, University Health Network, General Internal Medicine
200 Elizabeth Street
Room EN14-214
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4
Tel.: 1-416-340-5125


How much of the medical literature is shaped behind the scenes by drug companies?

Drug companies control or shape multiple steps in the research, analysis, writing, and publication of a large proportion of the medical literature, and they do so behind the scenes, according to a policy paper in this week's PLoS Medicine. The paper's author, Sergio Sismondo (Queen's University, Kingston, Canada), who is an expert in the philosophy of science, calls this phenomenon "ghost management."

Such articles are "ghostly" says Dr Sismondo, "because signs of their actual production are largely invisible--academic authors whose names appear at the tops of ghost-managed articles give corporate research a veneer of independence and credibility." Drug companies hire medical education and communication companies (MECCs) to help produce and place company-funded articles in medical journals, says Dr Sismondo.

These articles are "managed," he says, because those MECCs "shape the eventual message conveyed by the article or by a suite of articles." Dr Sismondo looks at one specific example--the published medical literature on the antidepressant drug sertraline. His analysis suggests that between 18% and 40% of the literature on this drug published between 1998 and 2000 was ghost managed by a single MECC acting on behalf of the drug's manufacturer. Ghost managed studies, says the author, "affect medical opinion, practice and ultimately, patients," says Dr. Sismondo. "I suspect that most researchers - even those participating in the system - don't have a good sense of the extent to which this happens."

Citation: Sismondo S (2007) Ghost management: How much of the medical literature is shaped behind the scenes by the pharmaceutical industry" PLoS Med 4(9): e286.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:"request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040286


Related image for press use:
- Caption: There is a whole industry shaping scientific opinion on drugs

CONTACT: Sergio Sismondo, Queen's University, Philosophy
Department of Philosophy
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Tel.: 1-613-533-2182


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