The Observer reports that Britain's leading medicines watchdog is to investigate claims made by a senior doctor of 'unethical behaviour' by Procter and Gamble over an osteoporosis study.
A series of emails and taped telephone conversations passed to The Observer reveal that a highly respected academic in the field of osteoporosis has questioned P&G's decision to publish drug research in his name even though he had not been given full access to the data it was based on. The report was written by a 'ghost writer' paid for by P&G before being given to the academic to agree.
The claims made by Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, senior lecturer and bone metabolism specialist at Sheffield University, are to be looked at by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority.
The issue will also be debated by MPs this week when the Commons meets to discuss whether the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry should be strengthened.
Blumsohn has told The Observer that he became highly concerned about the analysis of data collected as part of a study he was conducting on drugs manufactured by Procter and Gamble. The research was into the effect the osteoporosis drug Actonel had on women at risk of fractures.
Blumsohn claims that for nearly a year he was prevented from seeing the full data, despite being named as the lead author on the study, and having two reports published in his name. Two years after raising his concerns about research conduct, he was suspended from his university post after he threatened to speak to medical journalists about the issue.
Insiders' view: This story has a number of threads to it: ghostwriting (Mike Lascelles at Pharma Watch has covered this in the past very well), data access and the pressure Big Pharma can bring to bear on academia.
The MHRA are invesigating. Insider awaits their findings with interest.