My brush with medical ghostwriting

kincputerI went to session at a science writers’ meeting a few years back on how to make a six-figure living. The session leader talked about getting  jobs from drug companies to write  review articles. They’ll give you all the medical studies you need. The pay, at the time, was exponentially higher than any other science writing work.

Um.  So, you can’t include any other studies? No. And, a doctor’s name goes on it? Yes.  As I recall, a few people in the room said they made a good living that way. The session then turned into a tense debate about the ethics of this kind of work.

So, when someone pointed out the story in the Times this week about evidence of ghost written scientific articles, I said — old news.

Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.

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