US senator calls for tougher rules on ghostwriting

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 30 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3504
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

    Senator Charles Grassley and the US Senate Committee on Finance have called for tougher rules and better disclosure about ghostwriting of journal articles. In a report issued on 24 June they have asked medical journals, medical centres, and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to impose stricter rules.

    Senator Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has for years been investigating the ghostwriting of journal articles, funding of continuing medical education, and prominent researchers’ financial conflicts of interest. He is the senior Republican on the Senate finance committee.

    The report says that, because journal articles influence medical practice and prescribing, undisclosed funding by drug and device manufacturers through medical communications companies could lead to publication of articles promoting sales of the companies’ products.

    However, it says that once strong policies on authorship and disclosure are in place the “challenging task is ensuring compliance.” Medical institutions rely on researchers to report accurately and honestly, it says, …

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