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Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies, an Observer inquiry reveals. The journals, bibles of the profession, have huge influence on which drugs doctors prescribe and the treatment hospitals provide. But The Observer has uncovered evidence that many articles written by so-called independent academics may have been penned by writers working for agencies which receive huge sums from drug companies to plug their products.
Estimates suggest that almost half of all articles published in journals are by ghostwriters. While doctors who have put their names to the papers can be paid handsomely for lending their reputations, the ghostwriters remain hidden. They, and the involvement of the pharmaceutical firms, are rarely revealed. These papers endorsing certain drugs are paraded in front of GPs as independent research to persuade them to prescribe the drugs.
Learn more about how drug companies do business in our Health Hub archive.