The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published reports expressing concern over how drug companies affect the publication of their medical research. These concerns have emerged in the wake of reports that Merck & Co. paid academic scientists to take credit for articles written by Merck-hired medical writers, a practice that can put patients' safety in jeopardy.
The JAMA reports claim that Merck attempted to minimize deaths in two studies that showed that the recalled painkiller Vioxx was not successful in treating or preventing Alzheimer's disease. The reports also contend that one Alzheimer study was designed and constructed primarily by Merck scientists. When published, however, the authors listed were academic scientists not previously named.
JAMA has insisted on strict reforms in the industry, and the journal in which the original Vioxx studies were published has said that its policies have strengthened. Merck calls JAMA's reports false and misleading. Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 because of its heart and stroke risks.