All is not what it appears to be whether it be smoke and mirrors or Ghostwritten reporting on clinical trials of pharmaceutical drugs. 

Professors Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens of the University of Toronto are co-authors of a significant paper on Medical Ghostwriting. Below are extracts of the Summary Points and Conclusion from the respective paper.

Summary Points

· Ghostwriting of medical journal articles raises serious ethical and legal concerns, bearing on the integrity of medical research and scientific evidence used in legal disputes.

· Medical journals, academic institutions, and professional disciplinary bodies have thus far failed to enforce effective sanctions.

· The practice of ghostwriting could be deterred more effectively through the imposition of legal liability on the ‘‘guest authors’’ who lend their names to ghostwritten articles.

· We argue that a guest author’s claim for credit of an article written by someone else constitutes legal fraud, and may give rise to claims that could be pursued in a class action based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

· The same fraud could support claims of ‘‘fraud on the court’’ against a pharmaceutical company that has used ghostwritten articles in litigation. This claim also appropriately reflects the negative impact of ghostwriting on the legal system.

Conclusion

The false respectability afforded to claims of safety and effectiveness through the use of academic investigators risks undermining the integrity of biomedical research and patient care. This integrity also underpins the use of scientific evidence in the courtroom.

Whether publications with academic guest authors are factually accurate is irrelevant. In Hazel- Atlas, Hartford insisted that the article’s claims were true, attribution issues notwithstanding. The Supreme Court found this argument unavailing: ‘‘Truth needs no disguise.

The article, even if true, should have stood or fallen under the only title it could honestly have been given—that of a brief in behalf of Hartford, prepared by Hartford’s agents, attorneys, and collaborators’’.

Today, as in 1944, one might expect the sponsors of ghostwritten articles to treat the question of false authorship as an insignificant detail that merits no legal sanction. The US Supreme Court’s comments provide a sufficient rebuttal to such claims.

After having read the above should you desire to read the full paper here is the web site link:

http://www.plos.org/press/plme-08-08-stern.pdf

it makes for very interesting reading