More fraud in medical publishing?

Slashdot points to an article in The New York Times describing a disturbing practice of one pharmaceutical company hiring a ghostwriting firm to pen articles for publication in academic journals.  Of course it would look mighty suspicious to journal editors seeing a manuscript authored by a writing firm so the writing firm rounded up some “top physicians” who allowed their names to be cited as the authors.

Here is one of the articles included in the discussion:

Bachmann GA. (2005). Menopausal vasomotor symptoms: a review of causes, effects and evidence-based treatment options. The Journal Of Reproductive Medicine, 50(3), 155-165.

The released court documents include an email exchange between the ghostwriter and Bachmann where  Bachmann indicates that “It is the best article that I have come across on this topic.” Funny words for someone who is supposedly the author.

I wonder how long this kind of publishing has been going on and what kind of long term impact is has on other research.  Google Scholar currently shows that Bachmann’s article has been referenced 32 times. How many others are out there?

Source:

Singer, N. (2009, August 5). Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy. The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/health/research/05ghost.html.