A recent study estimated a significant percentage of medical studies are ghostwritten. The really troubling detail — Up to half of all medical studies may be ghostwritten by companies with a financial interest in the research.
Next time you see or read a medical article listing a researcher or physician as the author, take a step back. Did the listed author really write the article? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe a drug company or medical device company funded and really authored the article.
Wordsmithing is ubiquitous in all promotional writing, not just ghostwriting: it’s the name of the game. Yet, advertising masquerading as unbiased health information clearly threatens the fundamental assumptions of scientific research. Can pharma, clinicians, researchers, and consumer protection advocates work together without distortion.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Doctors. Consumers. At some level we all rely on the trustworthiness of research for the medical devices and medications we use. As a patient, ghostwriting is an important issue because the FDA and medical profession may be relying on biased information to advise you. For the FDA, independent research is essential to the drug approval process. Once a drug or medical device is approved, physicians then rely on the available research and warnings to advise their patients. Yet, medical writing tainted by the hidden influence of pharmaceutical manufacturers is clearly not independent or trustworthy.
Just a few weeks ago, Bloomberg published an article titled Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter For Some Safety Reviews. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we have been investigating several cases involving the use of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup among farm and landscape workers. What is Monsanto’s ghostwriter story? In August 2017 a group of lawyers released dozens of internal Monsanto emails detailing how the company worked with an outside consulting firm to induce a scientific journal into publishing a purported “independent” review of Roundup health effects. Did the company “game” the system to create the appearance of genuine research? It’s not the first time we’ve seen this issue. The issue has appeared in several of our prior dangerous drug and defective medical device cases. I believe many pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers falsely game the system to make their products appear safe despite huge injury issues.
At our firm, we have previously taken the depositions of doctors who prescribed or implanted defective medical products. In one case involving a surgical implant, I was shocked at the extent of the manufacturer’s activities designed to convince a local northern Alabama surgeon its product was safe.
Yes, I’m often critical of medical/scientific articles. That’s because I am constantly reading them as part of my case research. If you’ve read my past blog articles, you will know how I feel about authentic writing. I don’t limit my criticism to medical/scientific research. I also believe too many lawyers employ ghostwriters to produce their websites and blogs. I know lawyers who have hired marketing companies to write all their content. Often, that ghostwritten content is inaccurate or misleading. That’s wrong. Writing should be about authentic research, authentic voices and authentic opinions. At all levels, consumers deserve real writing by real authors.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we help people in Alabama who have suffered a personal injury. If you have questions about any of our articles, give us a call. We frequently write about personal injury issues, including legal cases, car accidents, highway safety and defective products. If you would like to discuss a potential claim, we would be happy to talk with you. Consultations are always free and completely confidential.