Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Retraction: Nemeroff and Ghostwriting

In a previous blog post:
--I did too little factchecking and accordingly made an incorrect assertion regarding Dr. Charles Nemeroff and ghostwriting.

The facts on which I was relying, and which do not support what I said at first, can be found in two posts on Danny Carlat's psychiatry blog:

Here's a recap. Dr. Nemeroff approached two of his academic psychiatry colleagues to participate in a discussion at a psychiatry meeting in Hawaii, to be videotaped by Bristol Myers Squibb, regarding the company's antidepressant patch, EMSAM. An article based on a transcript of that video was then published in the journal CNS Spectrums.

Critics noted apparent errors in that article, leading one of Dr. Nemeroff's co-participants (and listed co-authors of the article), Dr. C. Lindsay DeVane, to protest to Dr. Carlat that the article as a "piece of commercial crap" that did not accurately reflect his views. Dr. DeVane implied to Dr. Carlat that the first draft of the article had been written by a ghostwriter hired by the drug company, and contained numerous inaccuracies; Dr. DeVane denied having seen the final draft before publication. The former editor of CNS Spectrums, James M. La Rossa, Jr., then wrote a comment to Dr. Carlot's post, complaining about current company-sponsored practices in the publishing world, and adding, "I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Nemeroff never saw proofs of the article either."

Dr. Carlat said in his later post that somebody must have gotten to Dr. DeVane, as he later retracted his comments and claimed that the CNS Spectrumsarticle was accurate, not ghostwritten, and that all three co-authors were "heavily involved in multiple edits." There were, as Dr. Carlat said, several reasons to regard Dr. DeVane's later retraction as disingenuous, especially because as he noted the first time out, his published research had stressed the lack of drug-drug interactions as a problem with antidepressants, whereas the CNS Spectrumsarticle seemed especially to claim that EMSAM was a superior product because it avoided drug-drug interactions.

Bottom line: others alleged (though one later retracted) that Dr. Nemeroff was involved with a ghostwritten article, but Dr. Nemeroff himself never admitted to this, in the specific instance that I was referring to.

I stand by my initial observation however in that anyone who claims to have written 450 articles, who keeps up the sort of travel and speaking schedule that Dr. Nemeroff apparently does, and who is well known to be extremely cozy with numerous pharmaceutical companies, has to be under suspicion of at least some of those articles being ghostwritten for him. Which is part of the reason why ghostwriting as a practice is such a basic threat to the integrity of medical science.

1 comment:

Jonathan Leo said...

Following the revelations of the VNS article which was published in Neuropsychopharmacology in July 2006, several accounts refer to a statement made by the ANCP that it was acceptable to cite ghostwriters in the acknowledgment section of a paper. I cannot find this statement made by the ACNP anywhere on-line. Does anyone have this statement?