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Project on Government Oversight

NIH Should Stop Funding Researchers Who Sign Their Names to Ghostwritten Articles

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November 30, 2010

In a letter sent yesterday, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) detailed examples of prominent physicians currently at leading medical centers—University of Pennsylvania, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine at New York University, University of Miami, Stanford, Yale, and Brown University—who signed their names to articles written by a marketing firm that was funded by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). POGO has discovered that, over the last five years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has provided these same researchers with $66.8 million in federal research grants. 

In a particularly egregious example, department chairs who were then at Stanford and Emory University signed their names to a textbook used by primary care physicians to prescribe pharmaceuticals for patients with psychiatrics problems. GSK paid a marketing firm to write the physician textbook and was allowed to approve the drafts and final page proofs.

Last year on C-SPAN, Dr. Francis Collins, the NIH Director, expressed dismay about ghostwriting and said it was a threat to the “integrity of science.” POGO urged Dr. Collins to end the practice of ghostwriting in academia by cutting off the funding for academics who engage in this behavior.

“It’s time for the NIH leadership to stop wringing their hands and take action,” said POGO Investigator Paul Thacker. “Cut off the federal funding of these researchers and everyone will straighten up. It’s the only way to protect the integrity of science and shield patients from corporate marketing that masquerades as science.”

POGO attached dozens of documents to the letter, allowing federal officials to see the evidence for themselves. 

You can view the letter and documents here.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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