September 11, 2009 Ghostwriting Is Called Rife in Medical Journals, By DUFF WILSON and NATASHA SINGER
Following up on a previous blogpost (http://ksparrowmd.blogspot.com/2009/04/corruption-between-drug-companies-and.html) about the common practice of drug companies facilitating and, at times, even doing the research studies for their own products, the NYTimes is reporting that six of the top medical journals had a significant number of articles that were written by “ghostwriters.” “Ghostwriters” are authors from drug companies whose names do not appear on the list of authors on a research study. This is an obvious blow to transparency, since the authors could not be traced to the company they work for. From the article-
“Six of the top medical journals published a significant number of articles in 2008 that were written by ghostwriters financed by drug companies, according to a study released Thursday by editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Among authors of 630 articles who responded anonymously to an online questionnaire created for the study, 7.8 percent acknowledged contributions to their articles by people whose work should have qualified them to be named as authors on the papers but who were not listed.
In the scientific literature, ghostwriting usually refers to medical writers, often sponsored by a drug or medical device company, who make major research or writing contributions to articles published under the names of academic authors.
The concern, the researchers said, is that the work of industry-sponsored writers has the potential to introduce bias, affecting treatment decisions by doctors and, ultimately, patient care.
According to the study, responding authors reported a 10.9 percent rate of ghostwriting in The New England Journal of Medicine, the highest rate among the journals.
Editors of the Boston-based journal said Thursday that they were “puzzled” and “skeptical” of the findings. “