Friday, August 28, 2009

Medical ghostwriting: like steroids and baseball?

An article by NATASHA SINGER in the NYT titled Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy includes the text:

“It’s almost like steroids and baseball,” said Dr. Joseph S. Ross, an assistant professor of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who has conducted research on ghostwriting. “You don’t know who was using and who wasn’t; you don’t know which articles are tainted and which aren’t.”

Because physicians rely on medical literature, the concern about ghostwriting is that doctors might change their prescribing habits after reading certain articles, unaware they were commissioned by a drug company.

Ghost-written review articles are common:

The ghostwritten papers were typically review articles, in which an author weighs a large body of medical research and offers a bottom-line judgment about how to treat a particular ailment. The articles appeared in 18 medical journals, including The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology.

Ghost-written articles in the medical literature are not exactly a news flash.

JAMA duped by ghostwritten paper about VIOXX


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