What’s a Ghostwriter? Conflict of Interest in Medical Journal Authors

The NY Times notes that many journal articles are written by professional medical writers rather than medical investigators.

The article states:

“Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company, paid ghostwriters to produce medical journal articles favorable to its hormone replacement therapy Prempro, according to Congressional letters seeking more information about the company’s involvement in medical ghostwriting. At least one article was published even after a federal study found the drug raised the risk of breast cancer.”

Senator Grassley, in the article, notes:

“Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, that can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that may not work and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling,”

From a medicynical perspective there appears little or no difference between an article written by a professional writer hired by a drug company and an article written by a medical investigator who is on the payroll (grants and/or salary) of the drug company. Both have the potential to be corrupted by the conflict of interest.

The problem is money. The issue is the potentially corrupting influence of pharmaceutical companies on the conclusions and recommendations of medical journal articles.

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