Using court documents from lawsuits over Merck’s Vioxx, a study in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association found that Merck often wrote first drafts or commissioned for-profit ghostwriters to write academic articles on the pain drug, then paid academic thought leaders for claiming primary authorship. Half the time, those doctors did not disclose that payment in publication, and often the corporate ghostwriter was not listed among authors at all. 

In a companion editorial, JAMA editor-in-chief and RxP advisory board member Catherine D’Angelis M.D. decries the practice, writing, “it is clear that at least some of the authors played little direct roles in the study or review, yet still allowed themselves to be named as authors.”  The lead author of the paper, Dr. Joseph Ross of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, is a member of the National Physicians Alliance, a partner of the Prescription Project.

Read more in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times.