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Of Sophists and spin-doctors: industry-sponsored ghostwriting and the crisis of academic medicine

Ghostwriting for medical journals has become a major, but largely invisible, factor contributing to the problem of credibility in academic medicine. In this paper I argue that the pharmaceutical marketing objectives and use of medical communication fi rms in the production of ghostwritten articles constitute a new form of sophistry. After identifying three distinct types of medical ghostwriting, I survey the known cases of ghostwriting in the literature and explain the harm done to academic medicine and to patients. Finally, I outline steps to address the problem and restore the integrity of the medical literature.

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