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Ghostwriting Medicine

Twenty-six medical journals articles that supported the use of hormone replacement therapy in women were ghostwritten, reports the New York Times. The articles were initiated and paid for by Wyeth and did not disclose that connection. Sales of Premarin and Prempro totaled almost $2 billion in 2001, Times says, before a 2002 federal-backed study of hormone treatment was halted after finding that women taking hormones had higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. The articles, mainly review papers, were published between 1998 and 2005 and appeared in 18 different journals. "It's almost like steroids and baseball," Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Joseph Ross says. "You don't know who was using and who wasn't; you don't know which articles are tainted and which aren't."

The WSJ Health Blog points out that Merck dropped its ghostwriting activities after the Vioxx settlement.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.