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In the August 11, 2009 issue of the British Medical Journal, J.H.
Tanne reported that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was responsible for publication
of 28 ghostwritten articles on the use of hormonal replacement drugs.
Although this is an important revelation, other pertinent information is
omitted. These ghostwritten manuscripts could not have been published
without the complicity of individual physician-scientists.
I urge the journal to publish a bibliography of the 28 ghostwritten
articles including the identities of those who signed off as authors on
these publications. I suspect that the list will include a number of
prominent "thought leaders". Such identification would allow
investigation of offending physicians by their respective specialty
societies and, where appropriate, disciplinary action.
It would also be interesting to query the attorneys who discovered
this information whether there is correspondence to indicate how often
offers of authorship of ghostwritten articles were refused by physicians,
and how often physicians who had spurned such unearned authorship notified
journals when the articles were subsequently published. Such information
could help to answer the provocative question of how often the road to
success in academic medicine might be paved with ghostwritten