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"CASSPER" Was GSK's Friendly Ghostwriting Program on Paxil

GlaxoSmithKline had a ghostwriting program named CASSPER, the AP reports. Five journals -- including the American Journal of Psychiatry and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry -- published papers written under the CASSPER program between 2000 and 2002.

GSK is the fourth large pharma company to be accused of using ghostwriting recently. The others are AstraZeneca (Seroquel), Merck (Vioxx), and Wyeth (Prempro/Premarin).

The CASSPER program was pitched to doctors as a way to help with anything from "developing a topic," to "submitting the manuscript for publication." The documents, turned up in litigation brought by law firm Baum Hedlund over GSK's antidepressant Paxil, also seem designed to tempt doctors who aren't that experienced. A GSK memo stated:

Physicians will be eager to participate in CASPPER regardless of their professional stature.
Dr. Leemon McHenry, a consultant with the law firm that uncovered the CASSPER program, told AP:
We know that GSK has engaged in ghostwriting for many years ... But to create an internal ghostwriting program and have the gall to name it after a cartoon ghost demonstrates their juvenile attitude and careless disregard for patients.
GSK told the AP that the articles disclosed assistance to the "authors" whose names appeared on the top, and added:
The program was not heavily used and was discontinued a number of years ago.
One last thing: Every time a company is caught ghostwriting, the company insists it was a one-off, uncommon aberration. And yet they keep popping up. If ghostwriting is really "not heavily used," then how is it that companies like Gardiner Caldwell Communications stay in business, advertising services such as:
Publication plans and development of manuscripts and abstracts for peer-reviewed publication and congress presentation.
GCC is, of course, the company whose president is Richard Lawrence, the man who praised a former colleague at AZ for doing a great 'smoke-and-mirrors' job on Seroquel.