Monday, November 16, 2009

Ghost-writing (plagiarism) in the biosimilar business?

In a NYT article titled In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’, Robert Pear discusses how numerous Congressman had remarks which were written by a lobbyist "written in" to the Congressional Record. Both Democrats and Republicans, who had opposing positions on the bill at issue (on biosimilars), copied text from the lobbyist.

Yes, lawyers were involved. Pear noted:

[T]he statements were based on information supplied by Genentech employees to one of its lobbyists, Matthew L. Berzok, a lawyer at Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli & Berzok who is identified as the “author” of the documents. The statements were disseminated by lobbyists at a big law firm, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Recall that Dershowitz of Harvard has noted that law school promotes a culture of copying.

Yes, a New Jersey Congressman was involved. Pear noted:

Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: “I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was.” He said he got his statement from his staff and “did not know where they got the information from.” Can one recall the recent statement from Karim Nayernia, who when snagged for plagiarism in his stem cell paper, blamed the post-doc?

Yes, Indian pharma was a whipping boy, Pear noted:

Lawmakers from both parties said it was important to conduct research on such “biosimilar” products in the United States. Several took a swipe at aggressive Indian competitors. Of course, when IT outsources all those jobs to India, China, etc., one presumes the same Congressmen are silent.

There were some differences between Republicans and Democrats as to WHAT was copied. Pear noted:

Democrats emphasized the bill’s potential to create jobs in health care, health information technology and clinical research on new drugs.

Republicans opposed the bill, but praised a provision that would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to approve generic versions of expensive biotechnology drugs, along the lines favored by brand-name companies like Genentech.

Now, IPBiz notes that "when" doctors copied what drug-maker ghost-writers provided, Senator Grassley investigated. Will Grassley investigate when Congressmen copied what drug-maker ghost-writers provided?

In the past, some people have distinguished "ghost writing" from plagiarism. Typically, as in the Laurence Tribe case, there is only one "author" taking credit, without attribution, for the work of another (or perhaps several others). Here, there were many "authors" taking credit, without attribution, for the work of basically one (Berzok). It is certainly ghost-writing, but it is plagiarism also. Further, as in the Grassley/Wyeth business, the public might be interested in the identity, and affiliation, of the ghost-writer.

**See also

Medical ghostwriting: like steroids and baseball?

Grassley continues inquiry into medical ghost-writing

Plagiarism or ghost-writing?

Velvel on Tribe matter

IAM on IBM's Kappos, not touching the political or patent pulse?
[which mentions the "Rick Clark"
matter in the area of IBM's outsourcing to India] For IPBiz readers who have forgotten the Clark story:

A NBC Nightly News story on 3 April 09 discussed how an IBM Fishkill employee [Frederic (Rick) Clark] was offered the opportunity to keep his job, in India at the prevailing salary in India [20 to 25% of US].

On the layoffs themselves, from the Times Herald-Record online:

IBM fired some 5,000 U.S. workers Thursday [26 March 09] — including employees at IBM Sterling Forest in Tuxedo and IBM Poughkeepsie.

One by one, thousands of IBM workers entered managers' offices with a sense of dread to learn if they'd get the ax.

At Sterling Forest, which had been spared from a wave of firings earlier this year, an employee described the mood as grim and the building whisper quiet.

Big Blue is shifting work to India, where labor and production costs are significantly lower.


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