Thursday, November 19, 2009

Medical Faculty 'Ghostwriting' Equals Plagiarism: Senator Grassley/ NY Times

Sen. Charles Grassley has been pursuing various forms of medical malfeasance for years. On November 17 he honed in on the practice of 'ghostwriting,' in which medical 'opinion leaders' are sought after as authors of medical journal articles supporting a new drug, vaccine or medical device. Only problem is, the articles they 'author' were actually written by drug company employees or contractors. We're talking 5-10% or more of articles in the major medical journals, according to a JAMA study released in September. Who knows what this costs our medical system in quality and dollars?

Mr. Grassley said ghostwriting had hurt patients and raised costs for taxpayers because it used prestigious academic names to promote medical products and treatments that might be expensive or less effective than viable alternatives.

“Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, which can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe treatments that may be ineffective and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling,” the senator wrote.

“Students are disciplined for not acknowledging that a paper they turned in was written by somebody else,” Mr. Grassley wrote. “But what happens when researchers at the same university publish medical studies without acknowledging that they were written by somebody else?”

Note: Plagiarism by a research scientist constitutes scientific misconduct, and is defined as a federal crime in 65 Fed. Reg. 76260.

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