Ten of our nation’s top medical schools were given until Dec. 8, 2009, to respond to two tough questions posed by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley expressed his concern that “any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, which can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe treatments that may be ineffective and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling.” He was referring to the practice of drug companies and manufacturers of medical devices paying academic researchers for the use of their names on articles promoting the use of these firms’ products, articles written by someone else. In addition, Grassley fears the practice raises costs for taxpayers.
In his letter to the medical schools, Grassley asked:
- What is your institution doing about professors who engage in ghostwriting? and
- How does ghostwriting differ from plagiarism by students?
He also asked if these institutions have written policies regarding ghostwriting and how they respond to allegations that faculty members have failed to disclose funds received from drug and medical-device firms when drafting manuscripts for publication. Kudos to Sen. Grassley for bird-dogging shoddy research and dishonest journalism!