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Manufacturing the truth: from designing clinical trials to publishing trial data (PDF Download Available)

During the development of a new drug, manufacturers sponsor (or act as authors of ) articles on the clinical trials of the new drug, and these articles are submitted to medical journals. Publication of these articles acts as an essential tool for advertising to the medical community who will be the future prescribers of the new drug. Richard Smith, a former editor of The BMJ, considered that medical journals are “an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies” (4). To illustrate, at an estimated cost of up to US$ 836,000, Merck & Co. purchased 900,000 reprints of the VIGOR trial article from the NEJM to circulate to doctors to promote Vioxx® (5,6). Wilson (7) argues that in the public interest, the potential for capture of medical journals represented by this commercial role must be acknowledged and addressed.