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"Ghostbusters!"

Some medical journal editors are taking on industry-financed ghostwriting, reports the New York Times. Charges of ghostwriting are not new and it appears to be widespread, according to recent reports and a survey done by JAMA editors. The Times points out that many journals in the past few years have put stricter disclosure polices into place, though that does not seem to have stemmed the tide of ghostwritten articles, perhaps because there were few consequences if something was omitted.

The editors of PLoS Medicine wrote in an editorial that:

Journal polices should also include enforceable sanctions. For example, if nothing is declared on submission but inappropriate involvement of a medical writer subsequently comes to light, any papers where this breach is substantiated should be immediately retracted and those authors found to have not declared such interest should be banned from any subsequent publication in the journal and their misconduct reported to their institutions.

"Requiring someone to write a retraction or barring them from publishing in academic journals for some period of time — that would be an effective deterrent," adds George Loewenstein, an economist and psychologist who studies conflict of interest disclosures, in the Times.

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog has more.

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