Here's something that you would be shocked by if you didn't live in a country run by cheaters, shysters, and selfish jerks:

The drug maker Merck drafted dozens of research studies for a best-selling drug, then lined up prestigious doctors to put their names on the reports before publication, according to an article to be published Wednesday in a leading medical journal.

The article, based on documents unearthed in lawsuits over the pain drug Vioxx, provides a rare, detailed look in the industry practice of ghostwriting medical research studies that are then published in academic journals.

The article cited one draft of a Vioxx research study that was still in want of a big-name researcher, identifying the lead writer only as “External author?”

Vioxx was a best-selling drug before Merck took it off the market in 2004 over evidence linking it to heart attacks. Last fall, the company agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by former Vioxx patients or their families.

"Or their families" because the patients themselves are dead. My mother was prescribed Vioxx and was smart enough to stop taking it when it gave her chest pains. But a lot of people aren't perceptive enough to realize what's causing their troubles, or sharp enough to realize that it could kill them. The Vioxx scandal is no small matter. It killed people. It could have killed my mommy, and I take that pretty personally. So when I hear that the "research" on Vioxx was written by the makers themselves, and that the doctors who signed their names to it did little more than that, I've got one hand on the pitchfork and the other on the torch. I'd like to see some heads roll. Or at least some academic positions pulled out from under the feet of the lying, cheating doctors who played this game -- whether for money or publications, I don't care.

Go on read the rest: the doctors are denying it, despite the evidence, and the journals DO have rules against this. No ambiguities here. Open and shut case. Heads should roll.

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