Medical journal editors condemn ghostwriting

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ghostwriting may be okay for tell-all celebrity books but the editors of a peer-reviewed medical journal draw the line when the veiled author is paid by a pharmaceutical company with a financial interest in an article's topic.

An editorial in the March issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine examines the issue of drug companies commissioning medical education companies to ghostwrite scientific articles in support of the company's product.

In addition to the strongly worded editorial, the March JGIM includes an article detailing the incident that brought the issue to the editors' attention and a newly developed policy statement on ghostwriting by the World Association of Medical Editors.

"This is an issue which involved an egregious case of unethical behavior by an author, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and a medical education company that has caused an international hue and cry and needs to be examined under a bright light," said journal co-editor-in-chief William Tierney, M.D., Chancellor's Professor, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute research scientist.

"Advancements in science, clinical care and medical education require a discourse among and between basic and clinical scientists, clinicians and medical educators," wrote the authors of the editorial, Dr. Tierney and co-editor Martha Gerrity, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the Oregon Health and Sciences University.

"Peer reviewed journals such as Journal of General Internal Medicine serve a critical service by providing a medium for such discourse. To be most effective in advancing medical science, care and education, published articles must have relevant content that pushes back the interface between what is known and what is yet to be discovered. Articles' content must be based on high quality and reproducible met

Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
Indiana University

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