PLoS Ghostwriting Archive

Two weeks ago we blogged about a ghostwriting case involving Wyeth. So we were interested to see that PLoS Medicine has now put an entire archive of documents related to Wyeth’s sophisticated ghostwriting system.

See also this editorial accompanying the archive, from PLoS Medicine‘s Chief Editor, Ginny Barbour: Ghostwriting: The Dirty Little Secret of Medical Publishing That Just Got Bigger. The editorial reads, in part:

If you are an editor, author, reviewer, or reader of medical journals, or if you depend on your doctor or health care provider getting unbiased information from medical journals, then the 1,500 documents now hosted on the PLoS Medicine Web site should make you very concerned and angry [1]. Because, quite simply, the story told in these documents amounts to one of the most compelling expositions ever seen of the systematic manipulation and abuse of scholarly publishing by the pharmaceutical industry and its commercial partners in their attempt to influence the health care decisions of physicians and the general public….

To Barbour’s list of people-who-should-be-concerned, I’d add Ethics Board members as well as university administrators. In particular, with access to this kind of evidence about ethical standards at Wyeth, don’t you think it at least possible that Ethics Boards are going to be scrutinizing research protocols extra-carefully, when those protocols are sponsored by that company? And in turn, wouldn’t any researcher who knows Wyeth’s now-tarnished reputation have misgivings about associating themselves with that company’s name?

Tip of the hat to Sheril Kirshenbaum, who blogs at Discover.

~ by Nancy Walton on August 21, 2009.

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