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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ghost Authors Common in Medical Research Papers: Study

Drug companies initiating clinical trials often use ghost authors and medical writers whose contributions are not credited in the research papers, Danish scientists said on Tuesday.
This practice could be reduced by greater transparency and stricter rules that insist everyone who has worked on or contributed to a medical trial is named.
"Ghost authorship is common but it is often kept secret because it is in the interest of both the industry and the academic authors who lend their names to papers they have had very little or, in some cases, nothing to do with," Peter Gotzsche, of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, said in an interview.
The names of authors and researchers are omitted from the published research papers because this may serve the commercial interests of the company sponsoring the trial.
"We have seen again and again that the conclusions in trial reports and other types of articles are given a spin by industry so that the conclusions are too positive compared to the data presented," Gotzsche said.
"It is very important for the industry to get messages out that are useful for their marketing departments," he added.
Lending their name to a study can be beneficial for researchers because it raises their profile and the number of published studies they are linked to. Gotzsche and a team of international researchers believe that unless the role of all the authors is set out in the research paper, people reading the study will not be able accurately to judge or trust its conclusions.
The scientists analysed 44 trials approved by Danish ethics committees in 1994-1995 in the first systematic examination of ghost authorship. One of the studies had been initiated by a local company and 43 by one of 26 multinational drug companies.
The researchers identified 33 trials with ghost authors. In 31 of them the ghost writer was a statistician -- the person who analysed the trial data.
Gary Moller comments:
These sorts of appalling practices help to explain why "research" that shows favourable results for commercial products always seem to be far more numerous than those reports that are less than favourable. Coupled with massive publicity machines behind them these reports of questionable repute then receive incredible publicity in the media - propaganda dressed up as news!

Menawhile, the free or cheap, self-help methods for keeping healthy, or regaining health are largely ignored. For example, if a drug was discovered that was shown to reduce cancer risk by as much as 50% it would be a news sensation. The discoverers would not only become incredibly wealthy, they would also be Nobel Prize winners. Or would they?

Well there is a drug that has been discovered that does just that - sunlight
. Sadly, because sun is free it receives little in the way of recognition for its cancer preventing qualities. In fact, we are taught by the establishment to fear the sun. Some might think there is some kind of conspiracy going on here. Or is it just a case of willful neglect aided and abetted by powerful commercial interests?

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