Junkfood Science: Ghostwriter update

October 13, 2007

Ghostwriter update

The three-year controversy over the publication of the results of a clinical trial written by a ghostwriter who was working for a pharmaceutical company that simultaneously kept the study’s raw data from the researcher has had an interesting development. JFS mentioned the debate here.

Pharmalot has just reported that the journal that published the ghost-written study has just announced a change in its policy on reporting clinical trials to prevent such problems in the future. Ed Silverman synopsizes things well, writing:

Boning Up: Journal Tightens Disclosure Policy

Over the past three years, a controversy raged concerning a study about Procter & Gamble’s Actonel osteoporosis med in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Although the tale was complicated and sordid, at its heart was the issue of corporate influence over study data and the responsibilities of a journal to act as a credible gatekeeper of information. For these reasons, the astonishing spat between the journal, P&G and a UK researcher, Aubrey Blumsohn, gained considerable media attention. Now, though, the journal promises to behave, well, differently.

What caused this ruckus? To keep it simple, an Actonel study was conducted by Blumsohn and Richard Eastell, a Sheffield University colleague....

In the end, the editors write that there are lessons to be learned, starting with this one: “The ultimate protection to science is open discussion.” Indeed.

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