The New York Times recently reported (see here): "A growing body of evidence suggests that doctors at some of the nation's top medical schools have been attaching their names and lending their reputations to scientific papers that were drafted by ghostwriters working for drug companies -- articles that were carefully calibrated to help the manufacturers sell more products.
"Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has led a long-running investigation of conflicts of interest in medicine, is starting to put pressure on the National Institutes of Health to crack down on the practice."
Meanwhile, fellow pharma blogger Rich Meyer, doesn't see things that way. "Medical journal articles sponsored by drug companies are part of marketing," says Meyer. "That is a fact of a capitalist business that has to market to medical professionals. 'Ghostwriting' has been around for over 20 years and is standard industry practice for the drug industries. I personally see nothing wrong with ghostwriting as long as it is made clear at the beginning of the article who wrote it and who endorses the content." (see "Ghostwriting: What is right and wrong").
Before giving you my opinions, I would like to know what YOU think. To make that easy, I've created the Pharma-Sponsored Medical Journal Article Ghostwriting Survey. Please take 2 minutes to answer a few short questions relating to medical article ghostwriting practices sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
Specifically, I'd like to know to what degree you agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Medical journal articles sponsored and ghostwritten by drug companies are a legitimate part of marketing to physicians.
- Drug companies provide ghostwriting services primarily because academic researchers are busy and some may not be skilled writers. I.e., it's NOT a marketing tactic.
- There is nothing wrong with ghostwriting as long as it is made clear at the beginning of the article who wrote it and who endorses the content.
- Medical journal articles sponsored and ghostwritten by drug companies are often biased (eg, emphasize the benefits of a drug and de-emphasize the risks).
- Pharma-sponsored ghostwritten medical journal articles are ethically suspect when physicians are paid by the pharma company to add their names as authors even though they have not made a substantive contribution.
- Physicians would never sign on as an author of a ghostwritten article that they did not review thoroughly.
- Medical schools should prohibit their faculty, trainees and students from being authors or co-authors of articles written by employees of commercial entities if the author's name or school title is used without substantive contribution.
- The federal government should revise research grant terms to prohibit grantees from being authors or co-authors of articles written by employees of commercial entities if the author's name or grant title is used without substantive contribution.
- Most physicians do not care that medical journal articles are ghostwritten.
Your comments are confidential (anonymous) unless you specifically provide your contact information at the end of the survey and allow us to attribute comments to you personally.
At the end of the survey you will be able to access a de-identified summary of the results to date.
Take the survey here.