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Perspect Biol Med. 2007 Winter;50(1):18-31.

Ghost marketing: pharmaceutical companies and ghostwritten journal articles.

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Center for Bioethics, N538 Boynton Health Service, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


The use of ghostwriters by industry is subject to increasing public attention and scrutiny. This article addresses the practice and ethics of scientific ghostwriting. We focus on the type of ghostwriting that involves a pharmaceutical company hiring a medical education and communications company to write a paper favorable of their product, who then hires a well-known academic to publish it under his or her name without disclosing the paper's true origins. We argue that this practice is harmful both to the public and to the institutions of science and that it is not justified by an analogy to accepted scientific authorship practices. Finally, we consider ways to discourage the practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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