Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yet More on Ghostwriting: NIH, Wake Up

While we're on a ghostwriting tear, I appreciate a colleague calling my attention to this letter from POGO, the Project on Government Oversight:

The letter begins by noting that NIH Director Francis Collins told C-SPAN last year that he "was shocked by that revelation—that people would allow their names to be used on articles they did not write, that were written for them, particularly by companies that have something to gain by the way the data is presented….If we want to have the integrity of science preserved, that’s not the way to do it."

Well, Francis ol' boy, say POGO, while you were busy being shocked, your agency was throwing millions of dollars in grants at the very people whose association with ghostwriting has been most thoroughly documented--so if you are so big on Integrity of Science, how about not further lining the pockets of these (alleged) slimeballs? (Bearing in mind of course that we are talking still about allegations, and not proof of guilt in any legal sense.) Or at least taking some serious action to check out what they did or didn't do? The letter goes on to name names and to list how many million bucks each high-roller has obtained in NIH grants since the allegations were made public.

Another note here that the POGO list consists of academic psychiatrists, and not to imagine that somehow the specialty of psychiatry has less ethics and integrity per cubic meter than any other medical field. It's just that lately there's been more legal action around psychotropic drugs; and with legal action comes the discovery of secret industry memos, without which we'd never know any details about ghostwriting. Still, if you believe sources such as Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic, profiled here a while back-- has in fact been relatively more in bed with Big Pharma than many other specialty groups.

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