Just because a scientist’s name is listed as an author of an article in a science journal, it cannot …

Just because a scientist’s name is listed as an author of an article in a science journal, it cannot be assumed that he or she had anything to do with actually writing it, because there is now a ghostwriting industry in science and medicine. In May 2002, for example, the New York Times reported, in a story about Neurontin, a drug approved for treating epilepsy: Warner-Lambert also hired two marketing firms to write articles about the unapproved uses of Neurontin and found doctors willing to sign their names to them as authors. Excerpta Medica is a medical publishing company in New Jersey that provides pharmaceutical companies an invaluable tool: ready made scientific articles placed in leading medical journals, and carrying the imprimatur of influential academic leaders. It works like this: Excerpta is contracted by a company to find a distinguished academic scholar to agree to have his or her name placed on a commentary, editorial, review, or research article, which has been written by someone either from the company or someone selected by Excerpta. [In one particular case], the writer of the article was a freelancer who was paid $5,000 to research and write the article under company standards. The university scientist, whose name appeared as the author, was paid $1,500. Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry claim that it is a common practice to have articles that appear in journals ghostwritten by freelancers.

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